PoC vs Prototype vs MVP: which of them is necessary for your product?

Explaining the difference between PoC, Prototype, and MVP in custom software development.

In this article, we are going to discuss three concepts identifying different ways of testing a software idea. It is dedicated to those who'd like to know more about custom software development from the business side: startup CEOs, product and project managers early in their careers, marketers, and anyone who works with digital products.

Even though the terms in the title look as if they were opposed to each other, it's not always the case. Actually, these can be stages of product management. Then, a more accurate title would be PoC to Prototype to MVP. However, some skip the PoC creation process or Prototype stages and proceed straight to building an MVP. All in all, these terms can mean milestones in the product development process and independent idea-testing models at the same time.

Further, we'll explore the concepts and benefits of each and see how to use them. Let's start with a proof of concept definition.

Proof of concept

Explaining role of proof of concept in product development process
A PoC aims to showcase facts proving the feasibility of our software idea

At the PoC (short for proof of concept) stage of app development, the product's feasibility is being demonstrated to stakeholders in a simple form. Its main distinguishing feature is that it requires a minimum of effort compared to the prototype and MVP.

The “concept vs idea” difference explains the purpose of PoC quite well. An idea is something that is based on suggestion, whereas a concept is grounded on facts. To put it simply, you have to support your speech with figures and computations to impress investors.

What is a PoC in the project development process? It can start by collecting potential users' feedback. The aim is to conduct a series of custdevs and collect data proving or disapproving the feasibility of the future product. A custdev stands for a customer development interview or just a customer interview, which is a method of validating your ideas by asking questions about future users' needs and challenges.

Another thing that proof of concept deals with is whether the aim is achievable. Basically, PoC is a step in the development process that proves the possibility of creating a product: Are there real technologies and resources that can bring your idea to life? That's when you decide on (NB, not build!) the methods, user paths, a tech stack, and an architecture of a product that solves a user problem.


Both prototype and MVP showcase the minimum functionality of a product. Their development requires more time and effort and, as a result, costs more.

  • Therefore, the first and obvious benefit of the PoC is its affordability as it doesn't require too many resources to get investments and understand if the product is worth building or not.
  • Another advantage is that it minimizes the risk of delving into unviable software idea. You can present the proof of concept to the investors in a PDF or PowerPoint format — no coding is involved. Imagine how frustrating it would be to find out that customers don't need a product once all the functions have been implemented.
  • The proof of concept has a great meaning for startups with small budgets. You may present PoC with minimal effort and still get enough funds to grow your business.

Best practices helping you create a proof of concept on your own

Usually, companies come to us with their concepts ready. However, sometimes our project manager helps them to formulate the inquiry and study the target audience on the stage of analytics. But we're happy to share some tips to help you understand what a proof of concept is and what steps to take to cover this stage of the development process yourself. Let's imagine that you have decided to develop a mobile app.

To embark on your PoC development process, create a focus group and conduct a series of interviews to know the request of the audience. It will help you to identify the problem and its solution.

Second, specify the resources you'll need to achieve the goal. For instance, draw a timeline, set the number of specialists required for mobile app development, and count any other resources.

Third, present how you're going to measure results after mobile app development is completed. Investors will definitely want to know the criteria for your success.

How to create a proof of concept for efficient product management.
A scheme that can help to build a proof of concept example for your product

Anyway, if you are struggling with defining your target audience or the uniqueness of the offer, we're here to help.

Are you searching for a development team to develop an app prototype for your app? Delegate this task to us!


Explaining role of prototype in product development process
A prototype helps you to imagine how the final product is going to work

If an app is a painting, then a PoC process is formulating an idea of what to draw, and a prototype is a sketch. It has the very core features that need to be tested. A prototype may require some coding, for example, to make a clickable app model. However, it's not a fully working software yet. What is a prototype's role in the software development process?

Just like a PoC, a prototype has a short life cycle in the product development process. Its main goal is to create an interface mockup for the first customers to test it. Also, it gives the development team an opportunity to study the technical feasibility of a product or check risky features before implementing them.

Prototyping may take different forms from literal sketches on a piece of paper showing screens and buttons to clickable wireframes created by designers. In general, it's an early version of a product. At this stage of the development process, the aim is to visualize the actual future user experience that you will further develop in the MVP.


Why make a prototype if it's definitely costlier than just checking your idea with research? Well, compared to a PoC, a prototype answers the question of how you are going to make a product rather than what you are going to make. And these are some other reasons that distinguish a prototype from other models.

  • By creating a prototype, you get the first vision of a product, which helps you to evaluate features that might have looked perfect at the PoC stage but turned out to be unviable or not meeting consumer needs.
  • When using the prototype as a stage of the product development process with the tech team, this entity helps you identify the most complicated flows and agree on them before the design and coding stages start. This helps the tech team and their client gain a shared vision of the future product and not spend time and resources on redoing pieces of work that are already completed.
  • By creating a prototype, you and your tech partner can check the product's technical feasibility. When a prototype is ready, IT developers can find what features are too hard to implement with current technologies, simplify the prototype, and go with interface and tech solutions that both match the target audience and are worth the resources spent.
  • You can design a user path and predict the challenges of your product's user experience.
  • Skipping the prototype stage might increase the risk of failure when entering the market after the PoC. It doesn't mean you have to check every new feature with the target audience; you can discuss a prototype within your team to finally deploy the best possible version of the MVP to the app stores.

Our case

At Ronas IT, we often offer the service of building a clickable design prototype in Figma. It's a good opportunity for the client to test ideas before investing money in app development. We worked with a startup that closed right after testing a prototype. We cannot name it because the project obviously does not exist anymore.

The startupper wanted to engage in mobile app development and make a rental app for sharing rooms and apartments. When our customers analyzed the market together with our project manager, they realized that the competition in this industry was high, and it would be hard to make money with a service like that.

How design prototype in custom software development looks.
An illustration of a clickable design prototype

Nevertheless, we don't see this case as a negative one. The earlier a startup founder understands that the idea isn't going to work, the more money is saved. In our case, we made a detailed clickable prototype, showcasing the core features discussed during the PoC process, that allowed a founder to thoroughly test the concept and opt out of the app development.


Explaining role of MVP in product development process.
An MVP is an early version of a product that is used for collecting real customers' feedback

MVPs can be of different complexity, from a landing page to a ready-to-use product with the necessary features you'd like to test. By the time of the MVP milestone, you should know who your target audience is and what its needs are. In addition to it, you should have a list of features you'd like to implement first during app development.

The next step in the product development process is observation. First, you launch an MVP, then see if your software idea works for the users, and finally start scaling it up and adding new features.

Read more about the process of building an MVP in the article Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Design: How to Validate Your Ideas Fast and Blow the Market?


Unlike a prototype, a minimum viable product is fully functional. Its launch is an exciting and exhilarating moment of your creation meeting the end user. These are other benefits of implementing the MVP approach in custom software development:

  • Because an MVP reaches customers, it is when you get a chance to start generating income. However, there should always be an opportunity for users to try the core features for free, otherwise, they won't even know what they are subscribing to.
  • Another upside is that your product exists in the real context. Now you can track and analyze users' behavior, get feedback, work on relevant issues, and consider a plan of further development based on credible numbers and stats.
  • An MVP is an even better way to attract investors to your mobile or web development project. Perspectives of the product seem to be more persuasive and promising when it is tangible.

Our case

One of the custom software development projects we are involved in is the Lainappi app. When we started our work with Lainappi, they had an idea of a product that would let people take and give items for rent. Apart from the ready proof of concept example, Lainappi had a design prototype, and they wanted us to bring it to the MVP level.

Product development process of Lainappi mobile app.
Screens of the Lainappi application

However, to bring the app to the market at its best, we had to run a short digital transformation: redesign the user experience and add a unique style highlighting the eco-friendliness of the app's interfaces.

One of the big changes in the app development was integrating system notifications into a chat for interaction between the renter and the owner. Whereas, the prototype had different screens for tracking the status, actions, and communication. During the development process, we also added a user profile, international authorization options, a language choice, a payment function, item descriptions, and other features that were not in the prototype.

Lainappi is a perfect example of how the product develops and changes from step to step: from the idea of renting household items to the design prototype by the Lainappi team and, finally, to the MVP built by Ronas IT.

Read more about Lainappi's digital transformation in our case study on Behance.

Wrapping up

All the stages of the product development process.
Here are all the stages of the product development process

To sum up, the model you choose depends on several factors: your budget, time, and readiness to enter the market. If you are just starting your business and looking for a seed round of funding, then a PoC or a prototype are the best practices your can try to draw investors' interest to your idea.

Depending on your resources, you choose whether to present your concept at the stage of the idea (PoC) or at the stage of the composed user path (prototype). And if you are ready to test the core functionality with the target audience, an MVP is going to be your choice.

These concepts can be stages of your product development process too. In this case, you'll move from an idea to a prototype, and then to the market.

Among other services, Ronas IT helps small businesses and startups take their first steps in product development. We take on projects of any complexity from PoC to enterprise level.

Are you searching for a contractor for your custom software development project? Then don't hesitate to contact us!

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