MVP vs. POC vs. Prototype – Which One Should You Kickstart Your Product With?

In the software development world, idea validation shouldn’t be ignored.

When building a new product, the first and foremost thing you need to consider is your idea’s scope, market need, and feasibility. Therefore, before you consider building products, you should have an answer to the following questions:

  • Is my idea technically feasible?
  • What will my product look and feel like?
  • How will users react to it?

The answers to these questions will provide a focus on which you can further develop your business and acquire funding. Now, the three main tools that can help you find the answer to the aforementioned questions are POC (Proof of Concept), Prototype, and MVP (Minimum Viable Product). If used strategically, the combination of these three tools can help businesses achieve a product-market fit.

But, there is a lot of confusion surrounding these tools. While some argue which strategy should be first, others juggle to find the difference between them. This blog contains insights that will help entrepreneurs cut through the clutter and make a strategic plan to achieve a product-market fit.

9 Out of 10 Startups fail, and One of the Biggest Reasons is the Lack of a Product-Market Fit – CB Insights.

What is Proof of Concept (POC)?

A Proof of Concept is the very step businesses should take before starting to develop their products. It is simply the process of validating the feasibility of an idea.

The main goal of POC is to test the technical side of product implementation and not the entire feature list. You can carry out a POC for any particular feature or functionality that raises doubts or looks difficult to implement.

Because a POC is just a physical implementation of any one part of the product, it is built for internal teams or stakeholders, not for users. But using and examining it, your internal team can decide whether you should proceed with developing the actual product or not.

When and Why you should develop a Proof of Concept:

  • A POC is a great tool for validating a new idea that hasn’t been seen or implemented before.
  • It helps you predict all the technological risks that may arise if you proceed with the development.
  • You can attract pre-seed or seed funding by presenting a proof of concept.
  • It is a cost-effective way to validate the initial idea and find various technological approaches to implement it so that you can select the one that requires less effort and resources.

What is a Prototype?

Once you are done with conducting the Proof of Concept process, the next step in your software development life cycle should be to create a prototype. Of course, this is only performed if you find your idea technically feasible.

A prototype is a visual representation of your idea or your product’s core feature used to predict the look and feel of your end product. It helps designers and project managers ensure that the end product will provide a seamless user experience and will be easy to navigate.

A prototype has many types ranging from simple paper prototypes to high-fidelity interactive versions, and businesses should develop one based on their needs and budget constraints. It helps designers create and analyze the UX and interface of the final product with the help of interactive UX wireframes and UI screens but without a backend. Businesses can use online tools like Invision and to create prototypes and validate ideas.

When and Why you should develop a Prototype:

  • A prototype is not a complete version of the product, so it can not be launched for the general public, but it can be used to test the idea among a small group of people inside the company.
  • Prototypes help you build a seamless user experience by letting you make changes to the design until you achieve perfection.
  • Creating prototypes provides you with an idea of the look and feel of your product and prevents rework. You can also attract investors if you have a beautifully created prototype ready to present.

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

A Minimum Viable Product is a workable model that only has the core features of your product. It is an initial version that leads to the full-fledged application after multiple iterations based on user feedback.

Your MVP is an important part of your product, and it should provide a seamless experience to users while solving their pain points. It is not advised to add advanced and unnecessary features in an MVP, but that doesn’t mean it should be a low-quality product.

An MVP is the base of a product, and it should be capable enough to attract your target audience. Developing an MVP aids in building a product based on your user’s requirements.

When and Why you should develop an MVP:

  • An MVP helps you get your first paying set of users. It isn’t a full-fledged application or product but is market-ready and lets you collect user feedback.
  • An MVP is the most important and effective tool when gathering the attention of investors. With an uncertain market demand, investors are reluctant to invest in just ideas, but with an MVP, you have validation from real end-users. Their feedback can be amazing proof to show investors.

POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype: What’s the Difference?

After conceiving an idea, a lot of entrepreneurs seek the answer to the question, “What approach is best out of these three: POC, MVP, or Prototype?”

Well, this question in itself is wrong, so there is no right answer to it. There is a very thin line between these idea validation tools, but you don’t need to choose just one of them.

The typical Software Development Life Cycle goes through four processes, POC, Prototype, MVP, and Production. If you conduct all these strategically, it can help you avoid failure and allow you to achieve product-market fit.

To achieve the right market fit, you need to identify each stage of the software development lifecycle and what should be your next step. You should see POC, Prototyping, and MVP as steps of the software development lifecycle and not as strategies in which you need to select only one.

It is good to go in order and use all three tools to validate your idea if you have the resources and bandwidth. But, ignoring all of them can lead to product failure. Here is how these steps are different from each other:

Attributes POC Prototype MVP
The definition It is a piece of evidence that proves the technical feasibility of an idea It is the initial version of the product that shows its look and feel It is ready to launch version of the product having just the core features
Who is it for Internal team, developers, and early investors Internal team, investors, designers, and limited end-users For everyone, including end-users
How it helps Predicts any technical roadblocks in the idea implementation Helps design a seamless UI/UX for end-users Allows you to collect feedback from end-users and quickly implement any changes required
Estimated time to develop 2-3 days 2-3 weeks 2-3 months
When to build it When your idea hasn’t been implemented before, and you aren’t sure about its technical feasibility When you are sure of your ideas’ technical feasibility and want to test the design elements When you are sure of technical feasibility and designs, and you now want to launch the product & collect feedback

Insights and Crux

Building a “never seen before” product is like experimenting with your ideas; the market may or may not embrace it. Walking continuously on this uncertain path requires sheer dedication, commitment, research, and knowledge. Strategically, you will not be harmed even if the product isn’t developed correctly in one go.
MVP or POC or Prototype – You need resources to get started on either of these tracks. The Best way for a startup to get started, then would be to kickstart development with an on-demand team Click To Tweet
For example, if you are not sure about the feasibility of your idea, develop a proof of concept first. Then, you should work on prototyping to see and analyze the UX design of a new product, which can later turn into an MVP that will be the foundation of your end product.

But, it doesn’t matter at what stage of the process you are; you will always need a team of expert developers and designers to progressively push your project forward.

At Netsmartz, we work with clients on a distributed agile model to help them fast-track their product development and develop disruptive products. By working with remote teams, you can scale faster.


MVP vs. POC vs. Prototype – Which One Should You Kickstart Your Product With?
Anup Mehrotra
Published on
August 23, 2021

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