Article

Chandresh Patel
Chandresh Patel 28 October 2020

POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype: Which One is The Winning Approach to Measure Product-Market Fit?

Startups have always fought the hardest battles of decision making before launching their product to the market. An idea gets flourished from seed to seedling and blooming into a flowering plant; meanwhile, it has to go through several stages. The end-product of a startup successfully passes the stages from idea generation, verification, technical feasibility, feature design, budget planning, mock-up creation, etc. 

Entrepreneurs might be aware of the standard and fundamental strategies that organizations undertake to accomplish their product development - proof of concept, prototype, and minimum viable product. Business owners use any of these three methods independently depending upon their project stage and idea. All of these three approaches have their own criteria, features and benefits. 

Many are not yet clear with these concepts and hence find it difficult to choose one for their product. In this post, I’m going to describe each one of these concepts and when you should use which one. 

Proof of Concept- Validate Your Idea

The POC stands for proof of concept and is a project development approach that confirms the feasibility of a project idea before you begin its development. In the IT world, a POC assures the startup if their app idea is technically sound or not. Entrepreneurs save money by developing a POC before project development because it gauges the possibility of your app. 

Main Features of POC:

  • Verifies feasibility of your idea and you can check the potential
  • You can have a realistic vision of your project idea by implementing a small part of your system
  • POC saves your cost and time for validating the features
  • Shows the right path for innovative ideas
  • Detects any bugs, errors, or risks at an early stage
  • Instantly clears your mind with an assertive of a negative review on your project idea

Why do you need POC?

You need a proof of concept when you are unsure of how well your customers will accept your product or app idea. It might be when you have a new idea for a first-time implementation or maybe a revised idea with a cost-effective solution. A POC depicts clear results as to whether your idea is viable or not. 

Prototype- Visualize Your Concept

A Prototype is a naive sample of your app idea from which you can learn about the project flow and internal functionality. Entrepreneurs develop the app’s look and feel in the Prototype so that they get the user response and modify their idea accordingly. 

Key Features of a Prototype:

  • A Prototype gives you feedback at an early stage of your project implementation
  • Lets you identify mistakes at the design or development stage
  • Users tend to accept your product due to the visual impact
  • Quick, easy, and inexpensive approach
  • Makes a simple representation of your complex idea
  • The business users can validate your system flow looking at your Prototype

Why does your startup need a Prototype?

  • To collect early response from your customers and investors
  • To determine the errors and design issues before actual project development
  • So that you can portray your idea to the stakeholders

Types of Prototype Models:

There are four types of prototype models: Rapid, evolutionary, incremental, and extreme.  

Rapid - This is a quick solution looking at the initial requirements and may be altered or discarded after modification.

Evolutionary - A sequential approach of prototyping where each model is a sequel of its previous one. 

Incremental - Each feature of your project idea starts with a different prototype, and in the end, all these prototypes together make up the final product.

Extreme - In web development, several HTML formats are tested and combined, which is the extreme prototyping model.

Minimum Viable Product- Key to a Successful Startup

The MVP is the first final product of your app idea, which includes the essential core and minimal functionality that is required to execute the purpose. You present your MVP to your end-users and get their feedback. 

MVP Key Features:

  • Improves the chances of production of your idea/product
  • MVP offers the right number of features to satisfy your users
  • MVP enables continuous user feedback for improvement
  • Depicts a miniature version of your final product
  • MVP gives valuable insights for betterment, keeping your users in mind
  • Asks minimal investment and gives high retention
  • Prevents you from wasting time, effort, and money
  • Increases the feasibility and value of your idea/product 

Why does your startup need to have an MVP?

  • To validate your app idea
  • To fail fast and learn from it
  • To raise funding by pitching your concept prominently
  • To shorten your product’s time-to-market

MVP vs POC vs Prototype: What Does Your Startup Need?

Let me take you through the differences between each of these three approaches for startup businesses. 

MVP vs. POC

Startups use both these methods- MVP and POC to verify the acceptance of their end-product. Both these approaches save you time and money, but their purpose is different. 

An MVP is generally the pre-mature version of a product with just the core functions to become a viable end-product. It does not contain any additional features but only the core features that are true to its main functionality. The reason startups build an MVP is that many startups do not succeed because they produce products that no one needs. You can build a tried and tested MVP for your market and see how users respond to it. 

On the other hand, POC is not a version of your product(app), but a verification if your idea has technical feasibility. When entrepreneurs are not sure about their idea, they build a POC and not an MVP. Most of the time, the users do not get to see the POC as they interact with the MVP. You develop a POC often for your team members to clarify your idea.

POC vs. Prototype 

Many of you are not clear with proof of concept vs prototype and consider them as the same. However, they are not the same. A POC is as the name goes- ‘a proof project’ to verify if some idea is practically possible or not. POC depicts only a feature of your entire project. By building a POC, business owners are saved from the failure risk of their project. It is like the green signal for your project app idea.

Whereas, a prototype is a working model that covers several aspects and features of your project. You ensure that you find out all your mistakes and errors as you build a prototype. Entrepreneurs can test the design, usability, and functional aspects of their app with the help of a prototype. 

MVP vs. Prototype 

You might say that both these approaches are anyway a model of your system, then what’s the question of Prototype vs MVP? I can say that if you consider MVP as a separate product version, then a prototype is the draft of your product.  When you develop an MVP of your product, you cater directly to your audience. MVP has the core and optimum features and is an error-free end-product. 

A prototype will never face your end-users, it is limited to your internal team members. You test your idea feasibility with a prototype and enhance your idea if needed. You can attract investors to your app idea with a successful prototype which will encourage you to go ahead and build an MVP for your product. 

MVP vs Prototype  vs POC: Comparison Table:

 

POC

Prototype

MVP

Purpose

To check the technical feasibility

To validate the design, user-interaction, and flow within the interface

To launch a minimal product with the intention of refactoring

Estimated Time to Develop

Days

Weeks

Months

Target Audience

Developers/ Team members

Teammates, stakeholders and limited user-groups

End-users/customers

Market Validation

Feasible solution

The way of building your product and using it

A confirmation of your product and its viability

Cost-effectiveness

Requires less budget and gathers internal funding

Least budget needed to build a prototype

Well-defined budget required and helps you with your investment pitch

Revenue

Not for sale

Not for sale

Can sell it to early buyers/users and while pitching your idea

Building a Product From POC to Prototype to MVP

By now, you have compared these three strategies towards your product development for deciding the best suitable method for your idea. Now, it is time you consider taking your idea from each of these approaches, from proof of concept to prototype to minimum viable product. You get incredible benefits as you apply this method of development for your app idea. 

Here are the stages and their benefits:

Testing the concept with POC - Even before you invest in your project idea development, test your concept with a POC. Here, you will find out how well your target audience accepts your idea. In this stage, you get to affirm yourself if your idea is viable or not. You get to modify your idea depending on the audience’s reaction. 

Faster development through prototype - If you opt to go for the complete product development, you require a minimum set of features. In this method from POC to prototype to MVP, the prototype helps you qualify your app idea with a small version of your end-product. It saves time and effort, and you get to identify your loyal customers. Users get a chance to interact with your prototype, and it generates a wave of enthusiasm amongst them and creates your brand awareness. 

After having your POC and prototype for your app idea, you are at a lower risk for failure. This makes your chances of getting better investors for your product (application). You get sponsors for your app as your risk ratio is lower and you have got proof support for your idea. 

Gathering quick feedback by MVP - As your app moves from the prototype stage to the MVP stage, it is now a complete model with minimal features. Keeping aside your expectations about your application’s look and feel, the MVP stage enables you to receive feedback from your customers. With little or no modifications, you are ready to meet your user demand by studying their feedback. 

How to Choose The Ideal Path- MVP vs. Prototype vs. POC?

Key considerations before making the choice:

You might be unclear regarding what your business needs - a prototype, POC, or MVP. Before you come to a conclusion, I will help you to understand your requirements and expectations from your app idea. For a moment, keep aside everything, and ask yourself these following questions: 

  • Do you know your target audience? Will your app idea be a value addition for your users?
  • Have you categorized your validations?
  • Exactly what do you want to verify - the technicality, feasibility, or features?
  • What does your business require?
  • What amount of money, effort, and time you have in hand to spend?
  • What level of functionality and production do you expect out of your idea?
  • Have you analyzed, discussed, and defined your terminology?

As your mind answers these questions one by one, you start to get sorted in your thoughts. 

When to choose a POC?

  • You want to acquire seed funding
  • To check the technicality of your idea
  • You want to share or propose your idea to your team
  • You want to check if the project or its features will succeed

When to choose a prototype?

  • When you want to visualize your app’s functionality
  • You are a scarce amount of time and resources and want to present your ideas to the stakeholders
  • When the possible technicality of your project idea is low
  • To have a look and feel for your idea

When to choose an MVP?

  • You want to prepare a demo app for your end-users
  • You aim to earn from your app
  • You want to produce a glitch-free app in the real world
  • When you have low expenditure and intend high retention
  • To learn the market scenario for improvising your application

Conclusion: PoC vs. MVP vs. Prototype: Which One Do You Choose?

Now that you know each of these approaches well, it is time to decide yourself. The trick is to realize what you need at this point in time. Here, in conclusion, I’ve accumulated a list of parameters and parallelly which method of development you should choose ahead for your idea. 

Pre-conditions/ Parameters

Strategy to Opt

You need to show a working model to your customers with in-built functionality

MVP

Intention to make money

MVP

You want to produce an error-free usable product

MVP

Learn from market perception and improvise 

MVP

Invest small and need high retention

MVP

Need for seed-stage funding

POC or Prototype

Check technical feasibility of your idea

POC

Project needs feasibility approval and funding

POC

Share your idea with your team and learn the technical side aspect

POC

You want to prove your app idea concept to a client

POC

Access features before project development

POC

Visual model of your idea, though some errors permissible

Prototype

Present your idea model to stakeholders and end-users in limited budget

Prototype

When a technical resource is scarcely available

Prototype

A look and feel of the product before further development

Prototype

Choose an ideal product development partner to turn your concept into a product. Thank you for reading. In case of doubt or suggestion, feel to get in touch in the comments section below.

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