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What’s the First Step in App Development? Prototype or MVP Development or Proof of Concept (PoC)

Sep 30, 20228 min read
by Murtuza Kutub
What’s the First Step in App Development? Prototype or MVP Development or Proof of Concept (PoC) Hero

People across the world on average spend 3.5 hours on their mobile phones every day, wonder why? There is a mobile app for every service/product you need, be it ordering food, booking a flight/hotel, shopping, watching movies, Dating, fitness, and many more.

With people having multiple options in every segment, the scope for app development has evolved. Every company has invested its efforts to improve the user experience. It is crucial to understand where to start, how to start, and how fast can they move ahead. PoC, Prototype and MVP have become crucial parts of product development.

What is PoC?

PoC stands for Proof Of Concept. The term in itself asks you what is your “Proof of your concept or the idea”. It is to know the feasibility of an idea. This may sometimes not involve any technical work, or might not involve any user feedback. This feasibility study could be technical feasibility or a business model feasibility for your new idea and testing to ensure that the idea is practically possible and will be accepted by your potential users.

It could be a detailed survey with a few hundred prospective users or hundreds of user interviews, or it could even be a technical build of some features.

A PoC will help you understand much quicker and for much cheaper if the idea is worth investing further time and money into.


Let’s say you want to build a subscription model for EV charging This is a similar business model to ClassPass where on one single subscription users could access various gyms and fitness studios/classes.
However for the EV charging subscription, here are some things a PoC could help you better understand :

Business model feasibility check :

  1. Identify who your target users would be
  2. Average miles were driven in a month
  3. Initial, overhead & maintenance costs to run the business
  4. What’s the price that’d be attractive for both the user and the business?
  5. Why would they pay a subscription, when they could pay per charge?
  6. At what scale would charging companies be interested to partner with you and what bulk rates can you get from them?

Technical feasibility check :

  1. Is the charging infrastructure interoperable?
  2. Can an EV car use the charge from any EV charging network?
  3. Do EV charging networks provide an API or
  4. Does the car provide an API to get the usage data?

Benefits of building a PoC

  • Validate the concept - It’s no longer an idea in your head. You’ve done any research and have validated the core underlying idea.
  • Helps understand potential hurdles or blocks - In building the PoC, you might face various challenges (technical/business/people, etc), and doing the PoC helps you become aware of the challenges that lie ahead when you build the MVP, and how to solve them.
  • Increases chances of getting investment - It reduces risks for investors, as they see that sound research has been done on the idea, and if it is built right, it can become a successful venture.
  • Saves time, money, and energy - In case the idea is just not viable, the PoC, for a fraction of the cost, would help you save a lot of time, money, and energy as you were able to ‘Hit abort’ much earlier than instead when you had taken investment or built out a full-fledged product with your own money.
  • Attract talent - It’s a lot harder to attract talent to join you in building your idea if it's just an idea in your head. With a thorough PoC, top talent (who have ample choices) would see the validation and might find it less risky to take a bet and join you on your mission.

When should you build a PoC?

  • When the business model of your idea is really unique and there are no competitors or similar products in the market doing something similar.
  • When there are technical integrations that might need to be done and they’ve not been done before.
  • Alternatively, when there are too many competitors doing something similar, and you want to validate if there’s enough space in the market for your product. And how hard/costly would it be for your product to capture the market?

How to build a PoC?

Try to use as many readily available and off-the-shelf tools for your PoC as possible. Remember the goal of the PoC is to prove the idea has legs, and this is not the end product.

  1. Use Survey tools like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Forms, etc to run surveys.
  2. Use Google sheets or Microsoft Excel to slice and dice data from the surveys.
  3. Use Zoom for detailed user interviews to gather more insight.
  4. Use as many No code tools as possible.

Is Proof of Concept the same as Prototype?

Proof of concept is about understanding your users, and their problems and seeing how your solution sits with them. A clickable prototype is more iterative where you involve your users over multiple rounds of feedback, and they have something visual to give feedback on.

What is a Prototype?

A Prototype or a clickable prototype is a visual representation of your idea, the various useful features, and workflows that would exist in the product. This isn’t the actual product, and it consists of dummy data. There’s mostly no software development done. It will showcase how your product will look and feel if it is deployed. It’s really useful to show it around to potential users, stakeholders, and investors so they can get a better understanding of your idea.

When should you build a prototype?

Building a clickable prototype is the next logical step after validating the PoC. It ensures others “get it” when you’re explaining your idea. It makes it a lot easier to understand.

The prototype is always necessary to showcase what your product will look like. It’s also a lot easier to iterate and perfect your clickable prototype than the final product as moving things around on a screen or tearing down screens or flows altogether is much easier on just design than on the software side.

Examples: Include three clickable prototype links.

Benefits of building a Prototype?

  • Quick and constructive feedback - Showing users a clickable prototype is a much better way to get feedback from them than just asking them questions.
  • Easy and fast Iteration - Based on feedback from your future users, you can easily and very quickly iterate on the clickable prototype till you and your users feel it’s right.
  • Expand your idea reach - Sharing a link to a clickable prototype is a lot easier for your future users. This way, you can start asking some of your users to share the clickable prototype link with their friends to gather more feedback.
  • Get the Investors piqued - Investors like seeing that early-stage founders have put in the work. It’s no longer easier to raise funds on just an idea unless you’re a serial entrepreneur with a history of good exits. Your clickable prototype can ensure investors clearly understand your product idea.

How to build a Clickable Prototype?

You can build it on your own using tools like Invision, Balsamiq, Figma, or Sketch to design some of the core workflows of your idea. However, that can take up a lot of time to get you up to the skillset of a solid designer. Hence It’s ideal to work with a good UI / UX designer who can help you quickly put together a beautiful-looking clickable prototype.

What is MVP?

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. MVP software development is the absolute minimum product that you need to build to solve the user’s problem. It's a no bells, no whistles watered-down version of your end product, that just solves the core problem.

Don’t worry, this again isn’t your end product and this doesn’t have to stay his way. But building an MVP helps you launch a lot faster, get feedback much earlier and make corrections (if needed) quickly, before a whole lot of users start using your product.

What is the difference between Prototype & MVP?

MVP is a functional product that is built using code. It stores actual user data and shows real-world results. It’s not a dummy data prototype. MVP is the next step after you’ve gathered feedback from your users on your clickable prototype. Feedback for MVP is to check if the problem is solved thoroughly, but the feedback on the clickable prototype is about how the problem should be solved.

Is MVP the same as the Beta Version?

MVP is more of an early-stage product than the Beta version. MVP is when you have brought the essential part of your product in front of the user for the first time. It is the starting stage of building your idea. Beta is more of various early versions of the complete product. The beta will come only after the MVP is validated.

Benefits of building an MVP

  • Cost & Time Saving - Instead of investing heavily in getting a full-fledged product developed, you can invest in the minimum version of your product which can solve the major pain point of your user. It may cost a fraction of the full-fledged product cost and helps in launching faster than the overall product
  • Let your users guide you - It is quite easy to fall victim to over-engineering. When you launch your MVP, let your users tell you what they want next on the product, and that’s the best way to build a product that will be loved and used, and paid for by your customers.
  • Reduce risk - Once you’ve built the MVP and got good feedback and traction, you become a very lucrative product that investors would want to fund the further development of. This reduces your own risk of putting more of your own money into the development and also gives you the benefits of good PR and trust that comes with venture funding.
  • Gain Market share - If your product is innovative, you should aim to get to market quickly to prevent others from launching before you and grabbing the market share.

How to build an MVP?

  1. Outsource to a good MVP development agency - Building a solid MVP would require a mix of experts - backend developers, frontend developers, designers, product managers, project managers, and Quality analysts. If you were to hire all of these experts, it could take you a few months to even get started. Working with the right outsourcing partner, helps you build the best MVP possible at the best cost. You can learn more about F22 Labs’ MVP development services here.
  2. Hire a CTO - If you do not have a background in software engineering, it’s recommended to hire a CTO or get a friend with a background in software engineering to oversee your MVP development as a consultant till you’re able to hire a full-time CTO. It’s quite unlikely that the CTO can build the entire product themselves (though such ninjas do exist, we have some on our team as well), so the CTO would be helpful in picking the right outsourced team and collaborating with them on the MVP development.
  3. Build your in-house team - This is ideal to do once you’ve built your MVP and have launched and raised funding. Hiring your own in-house team would make sense and be a lot easier when you have a runway($) and product roadmap of at least 18-24 months, as you do not want to be in a position to fire your employees a few months after you’ve just hired them. Also hiring an in-house team can be a lot expensive as there are other overheads beyond salary like Insurance covers, paid vacation, Office, Laptops and other devices, Internet infrastructure, and other costs. Plus you would end up giving away equity to your early employees.

When should you build an MVP?

When you’ve done your homework with the PoC and have got strong positive feedback on the clickable prototype, then you should be moving full speed forward with the MVP development.

It is not a written rule that you have to follow the process of first building a PoC, then a clickable prototype & then the MVP. You could skip the PoC and clickable prototype if there are similar products already on the market.

The most important aspect is to understand what is the right way forward for you. At F22 Labs, we love working with and guiding first-time entrepreneurs to build their MVPs and build startups that solve problems!

Author Detail

Author-Murtuza Kutub
Murtuza Kutub

A product development and growth expert, helping founders and startups build and grow their products at lightning speed with a track record of success. Apart from work, I love to network & Travel.


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