I get so many entrepreneurs telling me that their product isn't ready to be launched. While you definitely have to have something to launch, you almost surely don't need something as good as you think.
As a reminder, here's what the Amazon.com site looked like when it launched:
You might say, "but that was a long time ago. the world has changed." Oh yeah? Here's what Twitter's site looked like in 2006 when it launched:
And YouTube's site in 2005 when it launched:
The point is, you don't need a great site as much as you need a great product. These products succeeded in spite of their sites because they were that good.
So put your time into creating a killer product before you focus on putting lipstick on a pig.
Another great (and very recent) example is a bug testing service called Crittercism. When I met these guys, probably in 2011, they were a small team with a really cheeky mascot eating a cookie. Here's what it looked like back then:
But there service is so valuable to app developers that they were able to get really significant traction and raise a Series A. Here's that same company today:
(It's awesome what some great customer traction and a few million dollars will do!)
And that's my point. Just make a product that a group is passionate about -- even if it's a small group. Way better to have 100 people love you than 100,000 people not care and not engage. As Dave McCLure says in his "Startup Metrics for Pirates" presentation (at the bottom of this blog post),
"Get your users to love you or hate you, as long as they're not indifferent. Indifference is the kiss of death, at least if they hate you, you have something to iterate on."
It can be frustrating when technology doesn't work -- especially when it's your startup's technology. But it's a nice reminder that even uber successful tech companies like AirBnB and Google have their challenges. Google was down for two minutes this week, which caused a 40% drop in global internet traffic.
And in a rich visual example, below is the AirBnB dashboard a work buddy found when he logged in to check on his apartment listing.
Here's how these examples tie into this post: You're going to have hiccups and errors no matter what you do when creating products. So you might as well ship early & often so you can learn from these errors quickly and fix them quickly, while creating lots of product innovation along the way.
Looks like he's been doing too much traveling, and AirBnB can't quite keep up!
So true. I spent two years researching blogging before I actually started my own. If I would've just jumped in and learned firsthand rather than read about others' experiences I could have been infinitely many times further with blogging by now.
Here's a fantastic blog about scaling to $30k/mo in revenue post-launch: http://www.groovehq.com/blog/first-year
So about just shipping it: Here's a great blog post from the founders of ooomf: https://medium.com/who-what-why/c744d79a6e76 on how they used Wufoo and MailChimp to jump-start their business with no to little coding. Love it.
You can't start iterating until you have something out there. There are so many assumptions that have to be tested, and priorities to be aligned. That's why you can't delay a launch
startupguru.tv is my third attempt at a business. This time around I decided to keep it basic and to keep the main thing, the main thing. Keep my efforts on finding good video, manage my Twitter account and use my address book as a jump off point for the site's mailing list.
Question from a reader --
However, I'd say this -- Why are you cold calling, anyways?
I was recently approached by a friend in the venture capital industry who asked me to write about my experience as an entrepreneur and transplant to Silicon Valley. Here's the resulting transcript of our discussion. I'm publishing it in the hopes that it helps other entrepreneurs, as well as those who haven't yet taken the leap but want to.
Can you tell me about the fundraising cycles your company has gone through?
We began in Washington D.C. in 2008 in a townhouse on Capitol Hill. It was a terrible time to fundraise due to the financial crisis, so we self-funded a mobile consulting firm called PointAbout which built mobile apps for large brands, including Disney, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, Cars.com and many others. That firm quickly grew to over 30 employees (and a much nicer space in DC -- although still a townhouse!)