Prototype vs MVP: how to choose the best option

Prototype vs MVP

Are you trying to develop a new business idea but you don’t know if you need a prototype or MVP? Many entrepreneurs have this confusion regarding prototype vs MVP, especially when it comes to deciding which one is the best option and how to choose it.

In this article, we will explore the concept of prototyping and Minimum Viable Product. Once you understand each one, we will make some suggestions on how to choose the best option for you.

What is the definition of prototype?


A prototype is best defined as an initial sample, model, or preliminary version of a product or service
. This sample serves the purpose of confirming the feasibility of an idea or concept.

There are several types of prototypes (low fidelity, high fidelity). However, some examples of prototypes can be a 3D printing object, or a landing page. If you want to go deeper we wrote an article explaining why is prototyping important

What is the definition of MVP?

To put it in simple terms, a Minimum Viable Product is a product or service that is good enough to solve a specific problem or need of a niche.

The product has the characteristic of being viable because it is the minimum version that can be sold in the market and generate income. Before being launched into the market, an MVP testing can be carried out.

MVP vs Prototype

Once you know the different definitions of prototype and MVP, let’s see what is the difference between these concepts. A prototype can be presented in many different ways:

Through a good product prototype development process, a company or startup can take the prototype to a final stage, and make it appealing and good enough to become an MVP.

Services that can help you to finish your prototype

Main differences between prototype and MVP

On the other hand, a Minimum Viable Product, whether it is a service or product, will be a version that can be purchased by any customer. In other words, an MVP needs to be finished and ready to function. That is the biggest difference it has compared to the prototype, which can be in many presentations, but that doesn’t mean customers will buy it.

A prototype is usually an unfinished product, that comes as a result from hardware design (see what is hardware design), and it won’t be good enough for satisfying the needs of potential users. The prototype needs to go through several iterations until it reaches a final stage.

Another aspect that is worth mentioning is the time. This factor is essential for ensuring that the prototype can be taken to a final version. On the other hand, the recommendation is that the MVP cannot take too long to be launched into the market, if the company or startup doesn’t enter the market on time, another competitor may launch a similar product or service.

The good thing about the MVP is that it can be upgraded over time, this is a common practice we see nowadays in the market with apps that enter the market with minimum features, and with the passing of months, the developers add new functionalities to make the app even more interesting to new users.

MVP or Prototype – which option to choose?

To really know what is the best option for you, it is crucial to understand where you are in your business idea planning (check what is product development strategy).

If you already worked on prototyping or you got help from prototype companies, and you think you have a device or service that can be sold, it is time to start marketing your MVP.

However, if you haven’t tested the prototype with potential customers, or you really aren’t sure about the features or feasibility of your product, it is necessary to carry out more iterations until you get a version that meets your specifications.

In some cases, startups and entrepreneurs try to get more funding before moving forward to an MVP, so, the prototype needs to count on a specific budget in order to advance to a further stage (see crowdfunding inventions).

Another way to decide between prototype vs MVP has to do with the intention. For instance, the prototype is more intended to functionally validate how viable an idea or service is. And finally, the MVP is thought or focused more for the end user.

Once you have this information clear, you can make decisions regarding your business idea. We have spoken with customers that come with a good prototype, but maybe they think it is necessary to make some additional adjustments, like upgrading the design, or the electronic components that the device has inside.

If after reading this article you still have doubts on where you are with your product, and you are looking forward to developing it quickly for the market, we invite you to schedule a meeting with us. You can click on the button below, and choose the best time for meeting with our team. We will gladly help you out.

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