Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Proof-of-Concept (PoC), Prototype. Three words that at first seem to mean the same thing… but they are not!
With the recent opening of the EIT Digital Ventures Program, on the 10th of March, these three names came to light, since one of the requirements to apply for the program is to have a PoC or a prototype. But don't worry, we are here to deconstruct each of these terms and understand what they mean.
It is true that the path from the idea to the launch of the final product is complex and small choices are necessary. One of the indecisions may be the choice between an MVP, a PoC or a Prototype. What do I want to verify? How big is my idea? Who will use my product? Will my idea work? These are some questions that can help when it comes to knowing which one to choose.
Let’s start from the beginning, you have an idea and you want to check if it is actually possible to bring it to “real life”. Well, in that case you do a PoC in order to confirm that the product really works. It is a small project created to check if the idea can be put into practice. This can be a good solution when we are not sure if our idea will work.
Like the PoC, a prototype is an early version of the product, in which the product's design, utility and functionality are tested. Prototyping is useful to discover errors. Unlike MVP, prototypes usually don't reach the market, but are still tested by potential customers. Once the product is tested, its creators have an idea of how the public interacted with it. Later, we will be able to adapt, improve or even create a new utility for the product. With a prototype, we can attract investors and later build an MVP based on it.
An MVP is a version of a product that has only minimal features, so that its main functionality is understood. In other words, it is an intermediate phase in which there is no longer just an idea, but the product is also not in its final version. The main goal of creating an MVP is to bring the product’s minimum version to the market and understand the public's reaction to it. If the feedback from our target audience is positive and if we already have enough resources, we are ready to proceed with product optimization and include additional features. Let's look at a real case: when Uber entered the market it didn't have most of the features available today. Thanks to the public's positive reaction, they gradually added more developed features to further improve the consumer experience.