How To Launch A Startup Project

Abusive handling of a startup launch is a common occurrence for first-time founders. The common mistake is to give the launch event disproportionate importance and invest too much time, capital and effort in getting it “just right”.

No wonder, considering the glamor that business media and various advertising campaigns ascribe to launch events. In addition, we have a deep tendency to polish everything that we present publicly as much as possible. After all, our own reputation is at stake (or at least it feels that way).

However, launching a new startup project in the early stages is radically different from the stereotypical launch that most people have in mind.

The key insight that helps a founder gain the right perspective is that a great launch event is not a growth driver, but rather a growth enhancer. In other words, if your offering fits the product market, a good launch would accelerate your growth. However, if it doesn’t fit the product market, a great launch event wouldn’t make much of a difference in the long run, no matter how many resources you invest in it and how much publicity you get from it.

The problem is that before you launch you don’t know if your product even fits the market. So the reality is that you would probably have to start multiple times before you finally feel a pull from the market. Of course, if you invest heavily in each launch, you would quickly run out of resources, which would be fatal if it happened before you found the product fit for market.

“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’re late to market” – Reid Hoffman, Founder of Linkedin

In a way, for an early-stage startup, a launch event is more of a test of the feasibility of an offer than a promotional tool. The goal is to pitch your idea to potential customers to see if they find it useful and use the feedback to improve your offering.

Against this background, here are a few good practical tips on the topic of startups in the early phase:

  1. If possible, do a pre-sale – this way you can collect useful feedback before the launch.
  2. Don’t think you have to launch a complete, polished product. If you have to choose between a quick start and a polished start, always choose the first option. The faster you launch, the faster you would improve the quality of your offering based on the feedback you received. You need to get your minimum viable product to market.
  3. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback. Feedback is what you’re looking for – seek it and use it to improve.
  4. Use soft launches – this reduces the feeling that a launch event is the be-all and end-all in the life of a product and the associated (social) pressure. Launch, attract some customers, get feedback, iterate, restart with new features, repeat.
  5. Use closed alpha and beta versions. This creates a common understanding that you are not presenting the world with a finished product, but a work in progress. This would in turn encourage feedback, which is a huge benefit. Additionally, you can create a sense of exclusivity that your early adopters will appreciate. This would increase the chance of making them brand ambassadors later.
  6. Last but not least – a closed alpha or beta would give you the opportunity to do a second official launch event once you are sure you are fit for the product market. This would increase the chances that you can make good use of any publicity you can gather.

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