Prototype and an MVP — Demystified

Donut as a Product

There is a long road between an idea and a final product. First, you have to proof-of-concept it. After that, you can start verifying it. Validation can be done through two steps: prototype and minimum viable product i.e. MVP. While both are often bundled commonly, they are different things that can either be used together or separately.

Here are remarkable differences between a Minimum Viable Product and a Prototype to help you navigate the complexities of product development.

First, let’s get to their meanings.

What is a Prototype?

After you decided to get started on developing a product, you need to see if it has any potential. The simplest way to do it is with a proof-of-concept. A proof-of-concept is a small project that is usually done internally. Its main purpose is to check if the idea is viable and can be executed.

After the proof-of-concept, you need to show what the output might look like. This is called a prototype. A prototype shows how a product will work and look like. It can be shown to other members of the team, outside the project, as well as to potential investors and other stakeholders.

There are many advantages to building a prototype. Aside from presenting it, it will also serve as a pilot for future development. It can also aid as a starting point for additional features and stimulate the flow of ideas.

Another benefit of a prototype that it has essentially no functionality. That’s why it’s relatively cheap to develop unless it’s some complex piece of hardware.

What is a Minimum Viable Product or MVP?

A Minimum Viable Product is a next step after a prototype. It must include some functionality even restricted works. However, its advantage is that it can be exhibited to the outside world. It provides a purpose for the design of your product. The MVP also includes some features that you can implement.

In this way, developing an MVP requires more effort and more resources. Since the MVP allows users to get familiar with your product, its UI/UX aspect is very important.

The main advantage of the MVP is that it allows you to accumulate feedback. Based on the data and impressions you collect, you can make further decisions regarding design, additional features, and so on.

An MVP is also a better way to present your product to potential investors. It will give them a better overview of the product than a prototype.

Which One to Choose between an MVP and a Prototype?

Once you started developing your product, you have to decide whether to build a prototype or an MVP. The logical approach is to do both since they have slightly distinctive purposes.

However, often a startup has limited resources and has to choose between the two validation methods. While a prototype is cheaper, we believe that it’s better to go with a minimum viable product. An MVP will validate your idea in a much clearer way. Besides, it gives you a more open chance of success when looking for fundraising opportunities.

Even though an MVP will cost more to develop than a prototype, this investment is worth the money. Moreover, you can find ways to cut some of the costs associated with MVP development. One option is to outsource it to a third party that will charge you less than it would be to develop the MVP in-house.

Product Enthusiast, currently hooked to upskilling my knowledge about product management. Firmly believe in People, Principles, Products, and Processes.