In startup life there should come a point where it’s time for us to take a deep breath and release our product to the market
In startup life there should come a point where it’s time for us to take a deep breath and release our product to the market. For some it will never feel like the right time since the product will never be bug-free. We should remember though that no first product is ever perfect – and that’s ok. That’s why we call it Beta.
Riding on the wave of our initial test market results (see lesson 3 – product validation), a launch point comes when a certain comfortable pattern of use by the users is obtained. At that point, there are a few ways of releasing the product to the masses and giving it a proper boost. The following is a summary of paths available to us. If you’d like more info, you are more than welcome to comment.
Consider that the methods explored herein are not necessarily mutually exclusive:
The First: Riding the wave of your product validation results
In a good case scenario you may find that your product is used in a certain manner and that your audience specifically adheres to one feature and forgoes the rest. That is probably your killer feature and in many cases users associate that feature with the product. Spend your resources on enhancing that feature and give it the proper stage it deserves. That “oneness” will call for a steady word-of-mouth grow.
If you are developing a mobile application, it is best if you can apply a feature that requires more than one user to obtain the benefit of the app. This leads to true organic growth. For example: Bump, transferring your “business card” data to another through bumping your mobile phones. Both users must have Bump.
The Second: Launching at a recognized competition
There are several startup launch stages around the world. The most famous are TechCrunch Disrupt and Demo. The advantages of releasing a beta live on stage are numerous, especially due to the great exposure and networking that follows. If you decide to apply to such an event, consider that your time table of product release may be altered, primarily because such events occur only a few times a year and have their own pre-requisites. The most important one is that your beta is not out in public yet. Your product must be launched for the first time live on stage if you are to be accepted. Additionally, even if accepted, you should learn how to maximize the benefits such a stage offers. This is a whole session all by itself to which there are many dedicated lectures. For example: Soluto – Roee Adler’s and Ishay Green’s great lecture of Soluto’s acceptance and winning at TechCrunch is fascinating and there’s much to learn from it. Additionally, The Junction gave a great lecture about “Launching your startup at TechCrunch Disrupt, and nailing it.”
The important issue to consider when launching at a live event is the need for an appropriate amount of presentation preparation. You have one shot and one shot only to get it right on stage. We have to remember that beyond the craziness of having a properly working product, the event is a show. As entrepreneurs presenting our product we need to put as much emphasis on our presentation and speaking skills, as we put into the technology factor. Hiring a coach to help us present and speak live on stage in not a bad idea.
The Third: Use media and PR services properly
There are many platforms today from which we can tell the stories of our new products; bloggers, online and offline journalists from a wide spectrum of newspapers, local and international TV shows, not to mention the king of them all – YouTube. Your options are numerous. Reaching a good blogger and/or a journalist is best done personally. Find any viable connection that will get you there. Reaching famous bloggers and journalists is usually a tough prospect since more often than not they’re swamped with requests. It’s sometimes preferable then to go after other bloggers and journalists who aren’t rated in the top 5 or even 10. Remember that media likes to copy from one another and once your story gets released, it will most likely be copied on many other channels. Plus, you helped champion other bloggers with letting them have your story first. They’ll appreciate it and remember you, maybe paying back the favor in the future.
Another more traditional and straightforward approach is to hire a PR firm that will do this kind of work for you.
The Fourth: Other available resources
Working with students. Many film and art students must submit a final project to obtain their degree. Such students are very creative and ambitious and often look for a stage. If they have to work on a final project, why not combine forces and direct their project to promote new products? In such a case, find the relevant vector for your product and work with students to produce a video clip, ad, song, model – any artistic piece of collateral that you think you’ll need to promote your startup. If the students know that their project will be promoted, they have the incentive of giving it 100%, and will often help you promote it further.
Find an advertising agency that is willing to take you pro-bono. Ad agencies are known for their eagerness to win prizes at the Cannes festival. Sometimes they need a client that’s willing to give them unrestricted creative freedom to help them produce something edgy and unique enough to catch the eye of the judges. Creative personnel are looking for “an account” to ride on in order to release their creative hearts. And who knows? You may very well be the next winning campaign if you just let them take the wheel for a while. Even if the campaign doesn’t win any prizes, you still got a beautiful free piece of marketing collateral.
Just a note – not only are ad agencies sometimes willing to do the above, I know from personal experience that some creative people are just looking for an excuse to create. Give them the excuse to do so.