How to Decide When to Use an MVP, POC, or Prototype

June 4, 2022

proof of concept vs prototype

There are several factors involved in product success. The majority of these factors are spread across the entire product lifecycle. It’s important to plan every stage from initial idea validation through product development.

proof of concept vs prototype

If the concept is not well-validated, there’s a good chance that the fully-fledged product will fail. When it comes to developing phases, you’ll need the appropriate development plans. Regardless, it will help if you validate your progress with your users.

There are three possibilities to assist you: Proof of Concept, Prototypes, and MVP. Businesses frequently mix these three approaches for their intended use and time. However, this blog post will break down the differences between Proof of Concept vs Prototype vs. MVP and assist you in deciding the one that is best for you.

further development

Proof Of Concept (POC)

POC stands for proof of concept. It’s a method for determining whether or not an app idea is feasible. A proof of concept methodology in software development can be used to verify that the concept will operate as intended. Startups can use it to establish financial viability.

A proof of concept is not a lighter or less advanced component of your functional product. It’s a standalone initiative that only tells you whether or not your concept is feasible to put into action. This approach isn’t about determining the demand for ideas in the market.

two men discussing further development

A POC doesn’t show the most effective production process. It is an initiative that focuses on a project’s technical capabilities. It allows you to assess whether one of your technological assumptions, ideas, connections, and so on are implemented.

As a result, if you need to authenticate two technical components in various sections of your internal project, you’ll need two POCs. A POC does not imply that your application is perfect since it isn’t likely to be used again. Its critical components include hard-coded data, mocked APIs, and so forth.

You may overlook code quality and security and reduce the UI complexity. You should start by creating a POC project before the prototyping process and MVP development. A proof of concept approach generally necessitates time and financial investment. But creating an unworkable digital product inevitably entails significant expenses.

The Features

  • Early investor interest: You may use a proof of concept to pitch your business idea to investors and get seed funding for future development.
  • Innovate: The intersection of technical capability and market demand is where innovation occurs. A POC will assist you in determining whether or not your concept can be implemented using presently available different technologies.
  • It saves time: You save time by checking whether your product concept is feasible. You avoid wasting time if you were to discover technical feasibility issues after hiring developers and committing significant resources and time.
  • Choose the tech that works best for you: Developing several POCs with a variety of technologies might assist you in determining the specific technology stack that is best for your project. As a result, you’ll be able to see what’s feasible and how to layout your product’s roadmap sooner rather than later.
  • Check against the competition: If you’re releasing a mobile app in a highly competitive market, a POC might help you identify unique features to strengthen your offer. To compete effectively, your solution must be a superior alternative to what’s currently available by combining a distinct strategy for addressing the same problem.

A proof of concept is not a lighter or less advanced component of your functional product. It’s a standalone initiative that only tells you whether or not your concept is feasible to put into action.

How Does POC Work?

If you’re unsure if an idea is feasible, concept validation may provide two possible answers: yes or no. A negative response will not allow you to continue with a project that may be failing. You may continue to develop your project if it has a compelling proof of concept.

man analysing market demand

A proof of concept process flow or results does not intend to show your users. It is a method for dealing with important problems from the inside out. However, showing it to prospective investors may benefit from raising seed-stage funding. As a result, you may demonstrate that you are a major player with a practically feasible concept.

Reasons to Use POC

Companies that want to know whether their concept is viable generally conduct POCs. An innovative concept, by its nature, generates uncertainty, which may necessitate testing. It’s also easy to apply the same thinking to develop a solution comparable to an existing one at a low cost.

mobile app development

The competitors’ approach may be implemented with greater investment than what you currently have. That is why it is preferable to use a POC method to assess your concept’s viability. A concept proof is not required in the development process. However, it is strongly recommended since it can help solve technical issues before your deadline.

The Benefits of POC

1. Mitigate the Risks

A proof of concept is a demonstration of the potential for future development. Jumping right into the development process has several risks. If a certain idea isn’t technically feasible, you forfeit the development costs. It’s always better to be cautious before, especially when money is on the line.

You’ll be able to test your POC in a real-world situation, similar to product development. So you’ll know if the concepts are feasible. You abandon the concept and search for something else if it isn’t. As a result, POC helps to mitigate the risk factors.

2. Gaining Investors

No investor would be willing to put money into anything until they are confident it will work. They need confirmation that will allow them to offer money.

mobile app prototype shows

POC tests are the most efficient technique to demonstrate whether or not your invention will succeed. It may assist you in convincing your investors that your new ideas are worthwhile and secure enough to continue.

3. It Allows for the Development of New Ideas

People with innovative concepts are on the lookout for funding. Investors are eager to fund creative ideas. However, both sides are deeply concerned about what will happen — what if it isn’t feasible or excellent?

Ideas may appear to be excellent enough on paper, but the actual problems are revealed after implementation. POC is a bridge that links innovators and investors, allowing them to overcome their hesitations. This allows more entrepreneurs to pursue their new ideas without fear of failure or criticism.

Example of Proof of Concept

Blockchain tech is a useful tool for recording and tracking cryptocurrency transactions. Walmart considered how to use this technology’s tracking capabilities in supply chain management.

It collaborated with IBM to create POC for the food tracking technology, one for mangoes in the United States and another for meat in China. It was technically feasible. In 2018, Walmart could trace the source of more than 25 items from five different suppliers.

What Is a Prototype

You may start prototyping as soon as you obtain a good result from the proof of concept. In software engineering, prototyping creates a preliminary model of a product to observe how it will appear after completion.

core functionality

A POC usually involves technical aspects, whereas prototyping involves user interface and experience. It enables you to picture how the user will use your product. A prototype is intended to help you understand the project’s processes and identify which features should be included.

The prototype creation process begins with developing a model of your product based on web or app views. It exposes the flaws in study and design. Prototyping is creating a preliminary structure or design of a product prototype that may be tested and altered until the intended effects are obtained. Prototyping, just like POC, has a short lifespan.

Features of a Prototype

  • Convince investors: A prototype can help you obtain investors’ attention and approval for your invention, particularly in the later stages of financing.
  • Optimize resources: When you begin with a prototype, you can spot undesirable UI components that should be removed before full-stack development work begins.
  • Iterate designs: Interactive prototyping solutions like Figma allow designers to create many design variants in a short amount of time. You may pick the most effective design and conduct internal tests if you do this.
  • Collect feedback: A prototype provides you the opportunity to send your product out for user testing so you can get early user feedback. Testing in this stage may go a long way to enhancing and refining the design, with plenty of time to correct problems.
  • Polish the business concept: You may reduce the complexity of your product concept and convert it into a visually appealing form with a prototype. After a proof of concept validates an idea, the Prototype will provide it with a more refined shape.

How Does It Work?

The product owner determines all system needs to produce a preliminary simplified design. The first mobile app prototype is built and evaluated. Once the main problems and strengths are determined, the developer evaluates the user feedback.

user interaction

It’s time to figure out what should be included and eliminated. The development of a new system follows each new mobile app prototype. The following system design is iterated until finalized, demonstrating all the requirements and user approval.

Reasons to Use Prototypes

A prototype product development may be useful in certain circumstances, particularly when some project criteria lack specificity. You may create mockup screens to get a feel for how your product will appear.

business logic

The primary advantages of prototyping are interacting with users and obtaining early feedback. The best approach to begin your MVP is with a stronger and more detailed prototype that meets users’ requirements.

The Benefits of Prototype

1. Validate User Experience

The best approach to evaluate the user experience you’ve developed is to prototype it. You may also use real users and clients to test your Prototype. You will learn about the performance of your UX design based on their feedback. Involving users in Prototype testing might lead to a more user-centric design.

2. Collaborate With Stakeholders

Prototypes create the potential for positive interactions with stakeholders. When you engage with stakeholders and clients, you might be open to various ideas.

 mobile app POC

A prototype allows for a more clear explanation of changes as well as expectations because it is functioning. In addition, this is the most effective method to ensure that you’re all on the same page.

3. Help Seek Seed Funding

Prototypes can assist you in demonstrating the efficacy of your product’s UX. Make sure to evaluate your Prototype based on the user feedback. You may then show the mobile app prototype to investors once you feel satisfied. Prototypes aid you in gaining investor confidence to fund your digital product.

Example of a Prototype

Zappos is a web-based shoe retailer. Nick Swinmurn (founder of Zappos) was unable to get the shoes he wanted in a mall. That’s when he had the inspiration to sell shoes online. He created a digital prototype and brought it to life. Zappos was founded as a prototype and was bought by Amazon for $1.2 billion ten years later.

MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

The MVP version has enough capabilities to communicate its concept and address the issue of early users. A minimum viable product is a functioning solution with a bare minimum of features to meet the demands of its early users.

It differs from POC or Prototype in that it is a working product with minimal capabilities. It enables you to determine how your customers utilize your service or product. What is the purpose of investing in something they don’t care about or need?

iterative process

Your MVP should highlight only the elements of your solution that make it appealing to customers. However, the sole question an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) asks is, “will customers be willing to pay for my product or service?” Unfortunately, the answer is usually not as straightforward as with a POC.

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) allows you to learn, grow, and understand further development. An MVP reveals how to build a decent enough product quickly. It’s not a full-fledged product, but it’s a useful technique for testing product-market fit. Also, you spend less money than if you were to create a complete product.

On the other side, you get a response, know what people want, and may finally begin formulating your business model. An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is not about creating a lesser quality product. It’s all about giving users a taste of your product and deciding whether they want to consume it.

Features of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

  • Get user feedback: An MVP is a wonderful technique for discovering what your early users think about your product and gaining insight into their feedback to help you enhance the future versions of your product.
  • Avoid wasting resources: Development time is reduced because you don’t have to build all the core features into your MVP. Furthermore, when you evaluate user feedback, you may create a clear product roadmap and development route — the danger of over-building features will be reduced. A minimal viable product also allows you to gradually scale up your product, allowing for the introduction of a subsequent release after you’ve received financial support.
  • Attract investors: While a POC and Prototype may aid in raising seed capital, an MVP can assist you in securing a larger investment after all because investors are more likely to be convinced to support your business idea with cash if your MVP gains traction and positive feedback.

Reasons to Use MVP

Entrepreneurs are rarely inclined to talk about failures, but this comes occasionally. This is due to some factors. The reality is that if your product is doomed to fail, you would want to be the first to know. That is the first and most important reason entrepreneurs prefer to go for a minimum viable product (MVP)

idea's feasibility

The most effective and efficient technique to provide a target audience with a solution for their issue is through a minimum viable product (MVP). Only one out of every five projects with an innovative concept succeed because of the lengthy development time. They do not establish an MVP and obtain feedback from a possible client.

An MVP is the quickest way to determine if people dislike a solution and avoid wasting time and resources. If they are eager to pay, an MVP allows you to determine how to extend in the right direction.

The Benefits of MVP

1. Early Feedback

You’ve based your product on user research findings. However, the development process is always influenced by company goals and concepts from various teams. As a result, you’ll never know the shortcomings of your product until after it’s been used by users.

Imagine what would happen if users discovered problems with your final product after it went live. It damages the image of your business. However, the case is different with MVP and there is always room for improvement. MVP enables you to obtain early feedback from target users and address any concerns. It enables you to fine-tune your product.

2. Early Engagement With Users

After you develop your MVP, you’ll want to get it tested by beta users. The early adopters are usually beta testers. If they like your MVP, there’s a good chance they’ll become a good customer.

only the features

That’s not all. Most beta testers are usually techies. When they discover something fantastic, they enjoy telling others about it. This allows them to spread the news about your product. It also assists in gaining even more clients. Thus, with MVP, you’ll have a great connection with them even before they become one.

3. Quick to Market

User agony is the source of all product ideas. This implies that there’s a good possibility that someone else thinks of something similar to what you’re proposing. The first to market is often considered innovative and has a better chance of winning.

You may create an MVP quickly and put it into the market to get user feedback. As a result, MVP is an approach for you to stay ahead of the competition and gain a firm foundation in the market.

Example of an MVP

Amazon is now one of the major players in the e-commerce industry. It sells everything from clothes to books, electronics, and even house appliances. When Jeff Bezos created an MVP for Amazon and launched it in the 1990s, the MVP was solely made up of book listings. When someone placed an order on Amazon, he would buy the book from the distributor and deliver it to the customer.

However, Jeff went through several modifications to the MVP after time as he made the necessary improvements. As a result, the company began adding extra items. Today, Amazon is one of the greatest business corporations in the United States, next to Google, Apple, and Facebook.

POC vs. Prototype vs. MVP: How to Choose the Best Approach

Entrepreneurs cannot opt between the approaches to achieve a product-market fit. They will rather pick one of the approaches based on their application’s progress or regard them as steps. Let us go over this in detail:

Scenario 1: When You’re Still in the Concept Validation Stage

You are ideal if you haven’t started developing either technique. This is a stage where you have more time to document the app validation lifecycle. There are many opportunities to invest in a lifecycle that begins with POC and continues through Prototype, then the MVP process.

initial feedback
  • Rightful testing of the product idea: The goal of starting with the POC stage and then proceeding to Prototype and MVP is to validate the concept. It aids entrepreneurs in adjusting their concept based on how their customers react.
  • Speedy development: When you use this method, your mobile app development firm works with only the most basic features — those that have previously been marketed. This implies that there is a lot of potential profit in a very short period.
  • Low investment risk: When you create an application that has gone through three testing phases, you provide investors with a guarantee that it is safe. This, in turn, leads to a large investment.

Scenario 2: When You Are Already in the Idea Validation Stage

When you’re in the idea validation stage, the possibility of going through a step-by-step process to reach product-market fit is quite slim. Under this situation, you must choose between Proof of Concept vs Prototype or MVP.

There are a lot of things to consider when making this decision – ones that might be easily converted into IFTTT (If This Then That) possibilities.

Here are some fundamental criteria for each technique:

Choose POC:

  • When you’re looking for seed money
  • When you must assess whether an invention is technically effective
  • If you want to exchange internal knowledge with your development team
  • When you want to evaluate a project or the features’ effectiveness

Choose Prototype:

  • When you’re looking for a preview of how the app would function
  • If you have limited resources but want to show stakeholders your application
  • When technical resources are extremely limited
  • When you need a quick visualization of the app

Choose MVP:

  • When you must demonstrate a functional app to your clients
  • When you’re creating an application to generate money
  • If you need an application that is bug-free and ready to be utilized by the general public
  • When you need better retention at a cost-effective
  • When you may want to improve your app by learning what the target audience thinks about it
  • When you want to improve the application’s functionality, it’s a good idea to find out what the market thinks

The Importance of POC, Prototype, and MVP

In all situations, POC, Prototype, and MVP allow you to conduct significant research before making a large investment. In today’s cut-throat marketplace, no company can afford to squander time or money pursuing a losing concept.

The three approaches assist you in conducting significant research on the viability of a project’s success:

  • The POC determines whether or not the concept is feasible
  • The Prototype offers insight into how it might be developed
  • The MVP helps you assess whether consumers are interested in the product idea and whether they would pay to utilize it (or a portion of it)

In today’s cut-throat marketplace, no company can afford to squander time or money pursuing a losing concept.

Conclusion: How POC, Prototype, and MVP May Improve Your Startup Company

Every project begins with research and planning. Startups develop plans, have brainstorming sessions, and devote a lot of time to avoiding errors to launch a successful product in high demand from consumers.

man and woman working on interactive prototype

If you go down the road of developing a unique custom product, all three techniques: POC, Prototype, and MVP can be useful. All of them are unique and have possible goals, yet they may all be used to their best potential to achieve the greatest possible outcomes.

About the author: Joe Silk -

Joseph is a freelance writer who focuses on sharing our Startup Oasis team's abundant knowledge with the rest of the world. Our team has no secret for anything to do with Startups, SaaS software firms, technology, Web and mobile apps, IoT, UI/UX Design. View on Linkedin