MVP/Prototype/POC - which way to go?

When someone has an idea and starts thinking about its implementation he doesn’t know where to start from: MVP (minimum viable product), POC (proof-of-concept) or Prototype. 

Let’s try to figure out which definition is most appropriate for the results of your work.

MVP

MVP is a small product. It contains a minimum set of features to reach stakeholders needs and to remain viable. In other words, it doesn’t have many interesting “features” and beautiful UI. Creation of  MVP makes sense at the beginning of startup in order to bring the product to the market as soon as possible and find out whether it will have any value. When the clients appeared, then you try to get money from investors for further product development. Surely, when MVP goes straight to the market, it should be a stable version without errors.

POC

What is POC, you can ask? It’s a proof-of-concept. Unlike MVP, this is a small project created to test some hypotheses before full development. For example, a POC is created in order to check whether a function can be implemented at all or if the idea is viable. Proof-of-concept shows us only a small part of the product, it does not cover the entire system functionality. Maybe users will not see it at all, because POC is the internal project of the company. The company creates POC to understand the product development path. We can say that POC is small research that provides green (or red) light for the project. There are also cases in which POC is used instead of MVP to obtain financing.

Prototype

Finally, Prototype.  Its main purpose is to help to choose product development direction and reduce the number of errors.  It’s a working model of several features of a product (unlike POC, where one feature is often implemented). Most often, prototyping is used to detect errors. With the help of a prototype, the team checks the product design, usability, and often the functionality.  You can’t do this with POC. The prototype looks more like a sketch which requires a lot of improvements. But it’s shown to users in order to collect their feedback. It is important to note that prototypes are often used to implement some fresh ideas and may later turn into MVP.
Summarizing the above, there is a table to compare the described terms:

POC Prototype MVP
Creation purpose Feasibility test Check the design, usability of a few functions Create a viable product with the least effort
Features  Can be a single function Several that may be discarded in the MVP Main functions to stay viable
Audience Development team Stakeholders Sizable customer groups
Reusability Functions Implementations can be used in the development Design can be used in the development The first version of a product
Value Evidence of the idea feasibility  Investment potential Product income
When are developed It’s not certain whether a business idea can be implemented. Business case unproven, risks unknown Sufficient funding, minimal risks and efforts
Technical Resource Technical expertise to implement an idea Less technical resources, almost no development Technical expertise 

Although MVP, POC and Prototype have much in common, they all have different goals. Do you have an idea? You are inspired to create MVP, POC or Prototype, still don’t have enough resources? Welcome to us! We will help to make your ideas come true.

In our experience with startups most often we built MVP, which could be preceded by POC and/or Prototype

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