Prototype VS. MVP – Where do you start when you have an idea for a product?

When you have an idea for a product what is the first thing you do? You are probably going to do a lot of research first (hopefully) to see if this is something that would be viable in the market, but then you are going to think about creating a prototype or an MVP. But, one thing to keep in mind is that these are NOT the same thing, and you are going to go about creating these two different things in a different way.

Prototype, MVP, minimum viable product
Source: Thinkstock

What is a Prototype?

A prototype means is getting your idea out to the world. It is your first vision of your product. Showing or telling your friends about your idea is one thing, but putting it in front of investors is the real test. Your prototype should be of minimal cost and should successfully get the point of your idea across. Think quick and dirty. You don’t have to be technical to create a prototype. You can sketch something out or use a simple wireframing tool, like Balsamiq Mockups. It is free and something that Standard Beagle uses a lot for clients that have a limited budget. With the initial prototype this is where you start trying to get funding. From friends, family, and investors. Once you acquire funding for your idea, you can then work to build your MVP.

But – never underestimate the true value of your prototype. The research and validation of that research is what makes it all worth it, and in the end it is what will save you lots of money.

What is an MVP?

An MVP stands for minimum viable product. This would be as the title suggests, a very small scale version of the product, it will have more functionality to it, but it will also be minimal. This would be your first release with the smallest amount of requirements to get your product to market. You should plan for your MVP with deliverables and goals. You need to see how people are going to actually interact with the product before you can fully develop it. If you don’t then you will spend tons of money on something and then most likely have to go back and change it later. Avoid this headache!

If you are a non-technical person and a Silicon Valley fan, think ‘Pied Piper’ – what happened when they released the product too early before legitimate user testing? They were unsuccessful. For those of you who are not Silicon Valley fans…basically a team of technical people created a product and went to their technical friends to test the product rather than having ’real’ users test it. This is a big no-no in the tech world!  You need to have people test your product that know nothing about it;  see how they interact with it. The way you think that people will interact with your product, may be the complete opposite of how they will actually do so.

If you would like to learn more about creating a prototype or MVP, please contact us! We can help guide you in the process of planning how to do so in the right and most cost effective way.