MVP vs PoC: What’s the Right Road?

Kelly Gebo

I commonly meet with excited entrepreneurs who have a new idea and are wondering where to go next. Sometimes, the idea arrives with a clear path forward. The technology to create the product already exists. The problem to be solved has been researched and market-tested. All that’s left to do is find a great team to develop and build an MVP.

Other times, it’s harder to see the road ahead. When there’s a question of technical feasibility or when the idea calls for technology to be leveraged in never-before-seen ways, it doesn’t make sense to move forward with a costly build.

In these cases, we like to steer clients down the Proof of Concept (PoC) road.

Fresh, innovative product ideas are absolutely exciting, but they come with added risk to entrepreneurs and their investors. If the product depends on third parties to be successful, there is increased risk on the development. To help secure funds and build momentum, it’s often best to gauge technical feasibility quickly and consider creating a PoC instead of an MVP as a first step.

Advantages of a PoC

A PoC allows an entrepreneur to quickly suss out if their product idea can be built and if so, how large the development lift will be in an MVP. This empowers them to confidently share a path forward with their stakeholders, most commonly investors.

The end goal of a PoC is to create a base product that contains the key functionalities of the end product. This could mean using the selected third parties and/or sourcing the right groups to integrate with. It may not deliver polish, efficiency, or durability, but it confirms a development roadmap and mitigates a great deal of risk.

The MVP Road

Conversely, developing an MVP focuses on creating a product that functions in real-world settings. It typically happens after market research has been done, the backlog prioritized and the architecture has been planned.

Where a PoC is a quick and dirty effort to confirm what’s possible, an MVP works to produce a foundational first version, ready for users, that can be iterated on later.

thoughtbot’s MVP strategy takes an iterative approach. Our goal is to get a first version out quickly, so we can gather real-time user feedback to drive updates and improve UX as we plan the next iteration.

How thoughtbot Can Help

People come to thoughtbot with all stages of product and business ideas. No matter if your team needs help designing a highly effective user experience, providing development guidance on architecture, or full design and development, our dedicated teams work with you to get your digital product to the next stage.

thoughtbot values collaboration and knowledge sharing, so we work alongside you the entire way. We don’t just develop products through our processes, we share why we do what we do so that you have total confidence moving your product forward after we’ve rolled off.

If you have a product idea or are looking to grow your start-up, we would love to help you with the resources and build the confidence you need.