PoC vs MVP and which one do you need and when

Sometimes whenever you are at a specific stage of your idea development you have heard these two acronyms being thrown around and you are recommended one or the other. Let me clarify what do you need them for and when.

What do they mean

PoC = Proof of Concept

You have a product that is just a concept, has the basic ideas and you are validating that you can actually do it, but is in no way ready to be used by real users.

i.e. You want to do a next-generation Gmail – a PoC would be you being able to send emails from one account to another and through the standard protocols to other email providers. You being able to send an email means that you have achieved your PoC.

MVP = Minimum Viable Product

You have a product that is ready to be used by real users that features the core functionality of your whole idea and fulfills your basic unique selling points.

i.e. You want to do a next-generation Gmail – an MVP would be providing an email service that fulfills all the general requirements that the users can sign up to, send emails, like any other service, and store contacts let’s say. Actual real users using it in real-life scenarios make it an MVP.

Which one do you need?

Obviously depends on the product. Generally speaking, in the tech world, usually you will need an MVP. Unless you have a specific innovative idea that you do not even know if it can be done, then you would potentially need to start with a PoC.

But if you want to build a next-generation SaaS or end-user product, the MVP is your target.

When do you need an PoC

  1. You need to validate if technically your idea is feasible. i.e. see that you can do it
  2. You have a lot of regulatory requirements and without those external users can not use it without it (usually anything money, health or gov related)
  3. When you need to make a pitch stick.

When do you need an MVP

  1. When you need real user feedback
  2. When you want to validate that this idea has a market fit
  3. When you need to start figuring out that what you thought can have business sense
  4. When you need to raise capital, as most of the VC’s today, will raise capital only if there is proven MVP