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The success of your product is determined by many factors. But a good kickoff depends on the viability of your idea.

The three most popular though confusion-clouded ways to validate the assumptions behind your idea are PoC vs Prototype vs MVP. 

In today’s blog, we will take a close look at the difference between PoC, proof of concept, and MVP, explain when and why to choose each, and how to get the most out of them for your product. 

Understanding a PoC vs Prototype vs MVP Linkage

Before we go into detail, let’s outline the main ideas about MVP, proof of concept, and prototype.

  • These concepts don’t refer to different forms of your product but rather to different stages of its development.
  • Developing an MVP is a general recommendation while PoC and prototyping might be optional (prototyping is used in most cases while PoC is less frequent).
  • PoC and prototype are used during the pre-production stage while MVP is developed at the production stage.

The product timeline in terms of prototype vs PoC vs MVP would look like this:

poc vs prototype vs mvp

What’s a Proof of Concept?                    

What’s a Proof of Concept?

A proof of concept (PoC) is a demonstration that something can work as intended and is often prepared at the early stages of an initiative. The main purpose of PoC is to check whether technology or idea can provide the expected outcome.  

PoCs might be used to validate everything from market demand to technical feasibility. It might be an integral part of the product development process that helps businesses to reduce the risk of failure for new services and products.  

How a Proof of Concept Works?

The POC is so valuable because it is a pilot project to evaluate the feasibility of your plan before starting the work. It verifies whether the concepts and technologies applied will result in successful final output. However, PoCs don’t create deliverables, as the main item being considered is the project’s feasibility. 

PoC Best Practices

A given PoC might be completely different from another proof of concept since there is no strict set of rules. It can be in the form of a presentation, demo, or even a text document. For the software development process we might recommend creating your own by following the next four steps:

  1. Conduct Research and Validate the Market Needs. During that phase you have to demonstrate two key things: the existence of the problem you’re trying to solve and your solution to it. Identify the exact pain point your target audience experiences and support it with some research – talk to a small representative working group, try to identify any patterns and use the insights that allow you to define what your software has to include.
  2. Сhoose the Right Technology. Choose the appropriate technology stack for the PoC based on the problem you are trying to solve or the opportunity you are pursuing. Ensure that the technology is scalable, secure, and can be integrated into your existing systems.
  3. Define the Solutions. Once the feedback from the previous stage is gathered, start matching it to solutions that are part of your concept. You have to come up with ideas on how potential customers’ pain points can be solved with the final product. Once you’ve come up with your solutions, it’s time to reach out to your research group one more time and check their responses to see if you’re on the right path.
  4. Test and Iterate the PoC. Once the PoC is thoroughly tested, it is a good time to invite all key stakeholders and present them with a well-defined product roadmap asking them to approve it and provide their feedback and insights. 

Reasons to Use PoC

There are multiple reasons to use Proof of Concept for your initiatives, and in this article, we’ll focus on a few of them:

  1. To Validate Your Idea in a Quick and Cheap Way. Even for the best ideas there’s no guarantee of success if you select the wrong way of making it alive, and it is extremely important to test your approach as early as possible to make sure that you’re on the right track before making a decision to invest more time and resources into development.
  2. To Foresee Limitations and Be Prepared for Possible Challenges. Every idea has its own limitations and POCs are a great way to assess the scalability of your concept and check whether it accommodates the wider organization’s growth plan.
  3. To Build Confidence With Investors. Though proof of concept is an internal approach, it might be a good way to demonstrate that your idea is viable and has a technically workable idea. And since there is some research behind your idea, this gives a signal to investors that your startup is worth considering.

What’s a Prototype?

What’s a Prototype?

A prototype is an early interactive visualization of the product that gives the look and feel of the application or a website. It shows how the application flows from one screen to another and helps to understand its usability and the need for additional features. Unlike PoC which is focused on the technical part, prototyping deals with UI/UX, visualizing how end-users will interact with your product.

How Prototyping Works?

The creation of a prototype starts with defining its objectives and system requirements to create a preliminary design. Then, the design process, which involves sketches, wireframes, and mockups, takes place. When the design is done, the digital prototype is built and tested to receive feedback from users to identify any problems and areas for improvement. 

The prototyping process may be repeated several times to test and refine new ideas before investing time and resources into building a final product. 

Depending on the specific goals and requirements of your project, prototypes can come in the following forms:

forms of prototypes

Types of Prototype Models

There are four main types of prototype models:

  1. Rapid prototypes are built to quickly and cost-effectively test specific functionality. 
  2. Evolutionary prototypes are improved versions of previous prototypes that are developed step-by-step based on user feedback.
  3. Incremental prototyping involves adding new features and functionality to a basic version of the product in small increments, with each iteration building on a previous one.
  4. Extreme prototyping is used in web development. The developers create a range of web prototypes in an HTML format with a services layer, test them and integrate them into a final product. 

Main Features of Prototyping

To better understand the difference between PoC vs prototype vs MVP, let’s have a look at the main features of prototyping, they are:

  1. User Involvement. In the process of prototyping, you get feedback from real users to ensure that the final product meets their needs and expectations.
  2. Rapid Development. A working model is created very quickly as it mostly doesn't require the involvement of the developers.
  3. An Iterative and Flexible Process. Different versions of the product are created, tested and improved quickly and easily.
  4. A Communication Tool. Stakeholders, developers, designers, and end users are engaged in the improvement process.
  5. Improved Quality. The quality of the final product is significantly improved by identifying and addressing design and usability problems at the early stage.

Reasons to Use Prototypes

  1. To Collect Feedback from Users and Stakeholders. The main purpose of prototyping is to check the compatibility of user flaws with the behavioral patterns of your target audience. 
  2. Finding and Fixing Gaps. Prototyping allows identifying any design and development mistakes before they are assigned to the development.
  3. Resource Savings. With the help of prototyping, the ideas are tested and refined before investing in the final product so that you can prevent potential flaws and rework.
  4. Receive Initial Investment. After a prototype has been tested and a beautiful and user-friendly design has been achieved, you can present it to investors.

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

MVP, or minimum viable product, is different from PoC or a prototype because it is actually a workable product that has a minimal set of features that allow to satisfy users’ needs, without providing any additional functionality. MPV allows you to evaluate how your users accept the product, and identify features that are liked by them or what is expected to be added at a later stage of product development. It is worth mentioning that MVP is a logical evolution of PoC and Prototype, but it still isn’t a final version of your product. 

Main Characteristics of MVP

  1. It is the first version of your product that can be rolled out to your target audience and the main challenge here is to provide them with features that resolve their problems keeping not essential functionalities aside.
  2. MVP can be considered as a first real contact with your customers which allows you to convince them of your product even if it is not in the desired shape yet. 

MVP Best Practices

  1. Timing your MVP – the key is to deliver MVP as early as it is possible and let customers interact with it as soon as possible to give yourself an understanding of what works and what needs to be improved.
  2. Requirement volatility  - try to avoid reacting immediately to early customer feedback. You can easily fall into one of the core problems of software engineering – requirement volatility. Sometimes customers might not be able to articulate what they need, or they might tell you what they think you need to hear instead of simply letting you know what they know. Try to observe your customers for some time, and then take any further steps once feedback is collected from the broader audience and analyzed in a proper manner. 
  3. Avoid building MVP for multiple platforms at the same time – it is safer to find one platform that is the most popular among your audience to validate their perception of your solution. 
  4. Don’t disqualify it if it fails – MVP is a great validation tool for your solution. If some of your customers didn’t like it, your job is to find out why. Maybe your product doesn’t solve your customers’ problems, or maybe you’ve selected the wrong audience. Once you find the root cause of bad acceptance, you’re in a position to adjust it or present it to a completely different target group. 

Reasons to Use MVP

We all can agree that it is extremely rare when a successful digital product is created with such important steps as user research, UX testing, etc. being skipped. Creating an MVP of your product is yet another element that really helps to reduce the probability of failure. Don’t get it wrong, having an MVP won’t guarantee you a successful product, but it will help you to evaluate your ideas at the early stage and understand whether they are worth further investment of time and funds, which, irrespectively of the outcome, will allow you to become a better entrepreneur. 

Comparing Proof of Concept vs Prototype vs MVP

Proof of Concept vs Prototype vs MVP


Finally, PoC vs MVP vs prototype: what to choose? All of them serve the same purpose - to validate your idea thus they are applied at different stages of development and are not interchangeable. 

  1. PoC is applied to validate the technical capabilities of your idea.
  2. Prototype deals with UI/UX, visualizing how end-users will interact with your product.
  3. MVP is a functional product that shows market reception.

If you are on a limited budget and time, picking up the right approach might be challenging. As an experienced partner, inVerita can help you. Don’t hesitate to book a free consultation with our managers.
Frequently asked questions
Is a prototype the same as an MVP?
No. A prototype is a preliminary model or a mockup of a product that is used to test and refine the design and functionality. While an MVP is a real functional version of the product with features to meet the minimum requirements of early adopters.
Does a PoC come before MVP?
PoC usually comes during the project discovery phase to prove the feasibility of the idea and then may be followed by creating an MVP.
How long should it take to develop a PoC?
Usually, it takes a few days.
When to consider building an MVP app?
Building an MVP is necessary if you are: starting a new business, have limited resources for building the end product, want to test your assumptions and iterate quickly, and attract investors.
What shall I choose: a PoC, a prototype, or an MVP?
The choice depends on the stage of development, your goals, and your resources. A PoC is chosen during the discovery phase to validate the technical capabilities of your idea; a prototype deals with UI/UX, visualizing how end-users will interact with your product; and an MVP is a real functional version of the product with features to meet minimum requirements of early adopters.
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