Proof of Concept vs Prototype vs MVP vs Pilot | Plan to Realize Your Idea

Proof of Concept vs Prototype vs MVP vs Pilot | How to Start Realizing Your Idea

If you are just starting your custom product design and development path, such terms as proof of concept (POC), prototype, minimum viable product (MVP) app development, and pilot projects may sound confusing. In this article, we tell the difference between proof of concept, prototype, MVP, and pilot. Let’s get started.

What is Proof of Concept?

Every software solution is inspired by an innovative idea. The idea is usually triggered by the suggestion that a certain concept may work beneficially.

What is a proof of concept? Proof of concept is a real-life confirmation that the idea will work as you’ve expected in the particular business environment while being powered by a set of technologies.

Proof of Concept Benefits

Software proof of concept opens up the following benefits for your future business.

  • Test the feasibility of your idea. POC software is one more opportunity to do it.
  • Determine commercial viability. A proof of concept study also focuses on market opportunities, expected demand, and small target audience analysis.
  • Evaluate the necessary resources. A software proof of concept document is the opportunity to estimate the tools and resources you need to make your idea work.

POC Business Best Practices

Below are some of the approaches that make POC development effective.

  • Set goals. In addition to using proof-of-concept to test your idea feasibility, you may also use it to solve specific technical problems and make your solution outstanding. Highlight the problems and find solutions as a goal of your POC.
  • Come up with measurable deliverables. How do you find out if you have achieved the goals set? You should set goal-related and measured indicators of your progress and success.
  • Highlight development milestones. Your proof of concept is also an opportunity to set development milestones and deadlines, plus a chance to identify the necessary tools and resources.
  • Create a proof of concept project plan template. Here is an article focusing on developing a template to prove your concept. You need to use this document as a project development guide.

MORE ON TOPIC: How to Run Successful Proof of Concept Testing in QA Automation

What is a Prototype?

A prototype is the first visual embodiment of your POC. Proof of concept vs prototype can be relayed as general and particular. The proof of concept is a general but well-researched and confirmed suggestion of idea feasibility, while a prototype is the visual realization of some hypothesis.

Winning Prototype Creation Tips

Below are some approaches that will help you create an effective prototype.

  • Get started by creating storyboards. Storyboarding and user journey mapping are at the core of any prototype. These practices allow for outlining how and what your users will do with your app and provide them with the most effective and pitfall-free way to do it.
  • Don’t strive for perfection. Your prototype isn’t a final product. It is a tool helping you make better decisions while creating a user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
  • Test your prototype with potential users. User acceptance testing is a winning and affordable tactic in prototype development inspired by the Lean methodology in custom software development.
  • If you have some time, consider making your prototype as lively and interactive as possible. Our tech and creative teams consider this approach to be quite efficient. For example, they include a clickable design, and in this case, the prototype is working visually with either random data or the data stored on local storage. Testing such a prototype with users will be insightful as well.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product (in Agile methodology) is an already working solution created according to your proof of concept, software requirements specification (SRS), and prototype. It is an application that contains some essential features to solve user problems, but it is not a final product. It is one of the stages in custom mobile development. MVP development is one of the core principles of Lean software creation, which stands for testing before investing.

The MVP development process is one more essential step toward creating a solution demanded by the market at the lowest cost possible. Such an approach allows you to manage risks and cut costs through user research, testing, and feedback analysis.

How to Make the Most Use of Your MVP?

While the MVP development process is already a huge step toward low-cost and time-effective software creation, some other practices allow you to get even more benefits and insights from your MVP.

  • Track the behavior and patterns of your users. It is the best tactic to find out how users interact with your app and which possible stumbling blocks they face. Use Hotjar to get these insights firsthand.
  • Listen to user feedback and research the suggested improvements for possible implementation. Most likely, your users will share their feedback with you. To make the most use of their suggestions, make sure to research and validate the ideas presented.
  • Proceed with testing. An increased load on the app in use may lead to unexpected crashes. Keep track of your testing strategy to make sure your MVP will work well.
  • Prioritize new features. We understand your desire to turn your MVP into a full-fledged solution as soon as possible. However, at this stage, you have to add only the necessary features to improve the user experience without overloading the application.

What is a Pilot?

A pilot project and minimum viable product are almost the same things. The only difference is the angle of consideration. An MVP is a purely technical outcome, the tool for testing and measuring the effectiveness of the features you have created. A pilot project is often referred to as an already workable and marketable solution.

Think about it as a single solution that may be used for different purposes.

  • An MVP is for you. It allows you to test, observe and reveal insights.
  • A pilot project is for your users. It allows them to use your solution and supply you with the information necessary for your MVP improvement.
Proof of Concept (POC)PrototypeMVPPilot
The idea feasibility test. There's only an idea, and you want to see if it works.The look of the idea, its shell. You can see how your app or software works, but it still doesn't have any back-end inside.The essential core of your solution. You test it on your first users and see what needs to be changed.First real product version. While you make MVP for yourself, the pilot version is made for its users.

Follow the Right Strategy Step by Step

Each of the concepts we have covered corresponds to software development stages. Following them step by step allows you to create an in-demand, technically powerful, and well-designed solution without investing in the features that will burden the user experience. To do this, you have to:

  1. Create the proof of concept. It is often used to get funding, considered to be one of the most essential steps regardless of budget.
  2. Gather software specification requirements. This document outlines what features you want to create and which metrics of success they should meet. We have a detailed article on this topic to give you an idea of the right approach to creating an SRS document.
  3. Create your prototype and test it. It is the primary step toward the visualization of your idea and a seamless user experience creation. You don’t have to choose between proof of concept vs prototype. Both of them are interrelated and important.
  4. Develop your MVP and test it.
  5. Introduce a successful pilot project.

Questions and Answers

Proof of Concept vs Prototype - Which One Comes First?

Proof of concept comes first in custom web or mobile app development since it proves you can realize the technical idea.

Proof of Concept vs MVP - How Do They Relate to Each Other?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is an already working solution created according to your software proof of concept template, software requirements specification, and prototype. And a prototype is a visual embodiment of the proof of concept and software requirements specification.

Proof of Concept vs Pilot - Do You Need it to Create a Software Project?

To create a pilot software project with some basic features and market potential, you need the proof of concept first. Next, gather your software requirements, create the prototype, transform it into MVP and develop a pilot project.

Cprime | Cprime Studios Proof of Concept vs Prototype Case Study

A customer reached out to us with the idea of building an app for booking vacant places in local coworking spaces. Like most startups, their long-range plans had a limited budget.

In this case, an interactive proof of concept for investors was the only way to raise funding for further development. We decided to create something on the verge of POC and prototype. It was an application with a clickable design powered by some loaded data to see how it works. There was no data server, just some locations to choose from and press the Book button.

A year later, the customer got funding and got back to us to proceed with application development. At this stage, we created an MVP or pilot project with real user flows, more advanced UI and design, and integrated payment systems. Creating an interface for coworking owners is the next stage in the development of this application.


Cprime Studios is well-aware of the proof of concept need. We also know how to create attractive prototypes to use for further user testing or attracting investors. Reach out to us if you need to prove your concept, reinforce it with an efficient prototype and proceed with MVP development.