POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype: The Strategy Closest to Product Market Fit
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POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype: The Strategy Closest to Product Market Fit

Prateek Saxena
By Prateek Saxena| Monday, September 16, 2019 13:42 PM |6 min read
POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype The Strategy Closest to Product Market Fit

Product Market Fit – the term coined by Marc Andreessen and popularized by Sean Ellis is a marketing concept that has grown to be applied by a number of startups, globally. 

The most no-nonsense way to understand its meaning is that if a product is being liked by a market which is demanding the product heavily, the product’s parent company has achieved a product market fit. 

While the definition paints a picture of nothing less than a utopia, the reality is that there are very limited ways to achieve this utopia. And the ways come packed with confusions. 

The three confusion-clouded ways that help entrepreneurs reach the product market fit are: Proof Of Concept, Prototype, and Minimum Viable Product. 

The major confusion that surrounds these three app viability check strategies is what separates them from each other and which one would get them closest to achieving the product market fit utopia before their competitors act on the idea. 

The intent of this article is to solve the confusion and help you decide which strategy to go with to achieve a product market fit in your app industry. 

But before you even get to the point of making a decision between POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype, there are a few things that you should keep into consideration:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What are you trying to validate?

POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype: The Concept 

POC (Proof of Concept)

What is POC? As the name denotes, POC (Proof of Concept) is an approach which businesses use to validate the idea or the feasibility of the concept. The stage comes into existence way before the development process starts. Here a small project is implemented for verifying if a concept can be implemented on the technical capability and business model grounds. 

A mobile app POC is not usually shown to the public or the customers for the main idea behind it is to simply check if the idea is workable or not. 

POC Features:

  • Showcases feasibility & Confirm Idea’s Potential
  • Developing a POC is a cost and time-effective way to validate features
  • Highlights risks and errors at a very early stage
  • Gives a clear yes/no right at the beginning of the project


What is Mobile app prototype? Prototype focuses entirely on showing how an app will flow from one screen to another and how it’d look to the end users. Building a mobile app prototype is one of the most important processes of app development for it uses tools to help with understanding how the app flows, what would be its usability, and what all features must be added in the application. Although it is not a standalone system in itself, the benefits of mobile app prototyping can be seen in the fact that it helps in getting a clear idea of how the app will look and function. 

Prototype Features:

  • Gets an early feedback on the application
  • Helps in identifying mistakes in the design and development phases
  • Simplification of complex ideas into understandable format
  • Application’s flow is validated by the business users
  • Beneficial in getting seed funding

Minimum Viable Product

What is Minimum Viable Product? MVP is a functional app that comes loaded with the prime features that best represent the application. It is a standalone application version containing mobile app MVP functionalities that can be sent to the users for them to play around and gauge the experience that they’ll get out of the full version of the application. 

The MVP development process helps in verifying the app feasibility, teams’ assumptions about the application, and its probable usability alongwith the market demand. When you build a minimum viable product, it ultimately helps in developing an application which is prepared to gather the end-user feedback.

MVP Features

  • Greater development readiness
  • Creation of higher value for users through continuous feedback
  • Attracts high retention through small investment
  • Helps in prevention of time and money wastage. 
Gauge demand & find new opportunities Show app to prospective users & stakeholdersEnable growth & validated learning
FeaturesValues which might become core featuresFeatures which might not make it to MVPHandful features that help fulfill user journey
ToolsSurvey, sign-up sheets, landing pagesApps minus backend, presentations, etc. Basic app
TargetInternal groupSmall audiences, mainly stakeholdersCustomer groups
Cost-EffectivenessNeeds very low budgetNeeds Average budgetNeeds high budget
Resource RequirementNeeds minimal to zero technical expertiseNeeds mediocre level technical expertiseNeeds high technical expertise
Revenue ScopeNot for saleHelp generate investmentSell to early users
When is it BuiltWhen seeking to create awareness about the app When the risks are unknown and funds are insufficientWhen prototype has gotten a positive feedback but the budget is limited.

POC vs MVP vs. Prototype: How to Choose The Best Approach?

If there is one thing that the comparison table and the definitions shows, it is that the question: which is the best strategy out of the three, in itself is wrong. 

In order to truly achieve a product fit, entrepreneurs cannot choose between the strategies. They will have to either choose one of the strategies, depending on the stage of their application or would have to see them as steps. 

Let us explain both the points in detail. 

Scenario 1: When you are yet to enter the idea validation stage

When you haven’t started with the development of either of the strategies, you are at a stage, which we deem ideal. A stage where you have the time to chart the app validation lifecycle. 

When you are yet to enter the idea validation stage

The benefits of investing in the lifecycle that starts from POC then reaches Prototype before getting to the MVP stage are manifold. 

  1. Rightful Testing of the Concept: The point of developing an application starting with the POC stage and then moving to prototype and MVP is to help check the viability of the idea. It helps entrepreneurs adjust their initial idea on the basis of how their audience reacts. 
  2. Speedy Development: When you go with this approach, your partnered mobile app development agency work with limited features – one which have been market tested. Meaning, there is a lot to profit from in a very little time. 
  3. Low Investment Risk: When you develop an application that has been tested at three stages, you give the investors an assurance that it is risk free. This, in turn, translates to greater investments. 

Scenario 2: When you have entered the idea validation stage 

When you have already entered the idea validation phase, the probability is very less for you to follow a step-by-step process in order to reach product market fit phase. Under this scenario, you will have to make a choice between POC vs Prototype vs MVP.

And the choice will be dependent on several factors – ones that are enough to be converted into IFTTT scenarios. 

Here are some scenarios to help you make the choice –

Choose MVP When:

  1. When you have to show the customers a working app
  2. When you have to make money out of the application
  3. When you need a bug-free app ready to be used by the world
  4. When you need higher retention at low cost
  5. When you wish to know the market perception to improvise the application

Choose POC When:

  1. When you need seed-stage funding
  2. When you have to check if the idea works, technically
  3. When you are aiming to share internal knowledge among team 
  4. When you want to assess project or the features’ success

Choose Prototype When:

  1. When you want a visualization of how the app would function
  2. When you have limited money and time but you want to show the application to stakeholders
  3. When there is very limited technical availability
  4. When you need an instant look and feel of the application. 

FAQs About POC vs. MVP vs. Prototype

Q. What is the difference between MVP and Prototype?

The primal difference that stands between the goal of a prototype and an MVP is that the latter is a ready to publish publicly version of an application, while the former is more of a version that is there to test the idea within the internal stakeholders of a company. 

Q. What is the difference between a Prototype and a Proof of Concept?

POC vs Prototype is a comparison of two very different concepts. While POC is merely a set of documents or basic level software used to check the workability of an idea, Prototype is the clickable version software that give stakeholders peek into how the user would move inside an application. 

Q. When to consider building a MVP app?

There are different instances where the MVP development method makes more sense compared to creation of POC or Prototype:

  • When you have to show the customers a working application
  • When you have to make money out of your app
  • When you need a bug-free app ready to be used by the world
  • When you need higher retention at low cost
  • When you wish to know the market perception to improvise the application

Q. What is the difference between MVP and POC?

POC vs MVP is a comparison between a concept and an application that is ready to be published in the stores. While the intent between both the concept is the same – to validate an app idea, the stages in which they make an appearance are very different. 

A POC is the first stage of idea validation – stage where a small project is implemented for verifying if a concept can be implemented on the technical capability and business model grounds. 

MVP, on the other hand, is a functional app that comes loaded with the prime features that best represent the application.

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Prateek Saxena
About The Author

Prateek Saxena is the Co-founder of AppInventiv, one of the fastest-growing mobile application development companies, based in Noida, India. With an extensive experience in Sales, he has established himself as a highly-focused user experience expert and product strategist, and as one who is always ready to take the new challenge to drive value to the company.He’s an energetic leader, effective communicator and a strong motivator, with a commitment to relentless improvement and innovation. He has, so far, mentored more than 100 startups and entrepreneurs worldwide, and is eager to help many others in planning their mobility roadmap.

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