Are proof of concept (POC) and minimum viable product (MVP) the same, or do I have to do both? Although each is vital to your product launch, they serve different purposes. In short, POC solves the question, ‘Is there a market for this?’ while MVP answers, ‘Will people buy this?’

You’re not alone in trying to sort out the nuances of these two important product development processes. Entrepreneurs and enterprises alike struggle to differentiate between POC and MVP, and to understand when and how to use each one. You want to get this right; consider that for every seven new product ideas, about four enter development, one and a half are launched, and only one succeeds.

Which one do you want your product to be?

In this post, we’ll take a look at the differences between POC and MVP. You’ll gain a better understanding of the use cases for each, what they’ll help you validate, and when you should use them.

What Are Proof of Concept and Minimum Viable Product?

Proof of concept, or proof of principle, is typically an internal project that helps you to verify that your theory has the potential for real-world application. However, we’ve taken proofs of concept to market in a controlled test environment for clients, particularly when developing B2E applications. In testing your proof concept, you’ll be able to determine two important things: a) whether people need your product, and b) whether you have the capabilities to build it.

Minimum viable product, on the other hand, helps you learn how to build that product in the most sustainable way, with the least amount of effort. Through marketplace testing, you’ll learn how people react to different iterations of your product and its potential features. The MVP process enables you to determine precisely what it is your customers want, so you can add only those features needed to make it marketable.

When to Test POC (Proof of Concept)

Proof of concept is a critical first step in product development and service design that lets you know whether you’re solving the right problem. Look for a proof of concept process that leverages short feedback cycles, enabling you to stay agile and quickly close the gaps between your expectations and the reality of your testing.

Theories and concepts proven viable at this stage might move on to a prototype phase.

When to Test MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

After you’ve tested the theory with your proof of concept and your prototype has shown how the product or service might look in practice, the process of determining MVP will help verify your product’s viability. You’ll gain valuable insights into usability, market demand, and which features are going to satisfy your early adopters. It’s an iterative process with the potential to lower development costs, even while helping you bring a product with more chance of success to market.

There’s a lot to consider in developing your MVP strategy. When do you need to develop a use case and further your understanding of your target market and personas? When should you start thinking through the feasibility of your technology? What cost differences are in play, and what savings or efficiencies could be realized? Consider, too, whether you might benefit from repeating your POC and/or MVP testing as you continuously learn and continue to innovate. Not sure where to start? We can help.

Once you have MVP out of the way, you’ll want to work your way through your pre-launch checklist and put systems in place for gathering impartial user feedback once you go live.

In summary, POC and MVP are meant to feed strategy, validate your ideas in an efficient and cost-conscientious way, and to bring value to your end users as quickly and smartly as possible.

Want to Learn More About Solving Your Complex Business Problems?

Assessing your opportunities, validating your ideas and planning for growth are among the many facets of successful business planning. Are you up to speed? Don’t worry, we can help you get there--and quickly.

Ready to get started with a POC or MVP? Let's get in touch.

Read: The One Reason Why You Should Stop Asking Users What They Want

Explore: The Principles of Success Software Teams

Participate: Attend an upcoming Skookum-hosted discussion around innovation & technology.