Product Launch (the uncut version)

 

Seedlegals went live some three weeks ago. Since then we have successfully closed a number of deals through the platform, user numbers are healthy and growing on a daily basis, my transition from human into robot is still on track and nobody has died (“NHD” yes this is a measurable metric).

What really happens when you launch?

I’ve been a resident in startup land for almost a decade. I’ve lived through literally thousands of launches, savvy raises, accelerator programs, founder fall outs, shitty rounds, liquidations and incredible exits, and I thought I’d seen it all.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I have been a cheerleader to teams around the globe, recklessly spewing out sentences like “don’t forget to enjoy the journey”, “the more users the better”, “celebrate the early adopters” and “you got this”. (“You got this ffs!!!”….. *shaking my own head*. Who even SAYS this?).

And to this very day, nobody told me I was talking bollocks, utter bollocks in fact, but bollocks nevertheless.

In the same way nobody tells you that first time sex is crap and having children means you will need to part with your money and freedom for a minimum of at least 18 years (both of which are experiences that are irreversible), nobody shared with me the magician secrets of the ‘product launch’. Everyone CHOSE to keep those nuggets quiet, and I could do the same, but in the interests of ‘give first’, you might as well have it straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Exactly one second after you have pressed the launch button every start up founder dream you EVER had, every pretend ‘Steve Jobs at Stanford University but it’s your face instead of his’ moment you shared with your bathroom mirror suddenly becomes your WORST nightmare. You secure a much sought after lengthy feature in Techcrunch(now can’t breathe), Program X wants to use you for all 44 of it’s clients (possible cardiac arrest).

You live with the constant fear that any second now this baby is gonna blow.

The days merge into one and around four, maybe five days in, you have that sickening realisation that (a) you are firmly on the treadmill, (b) there is a good chance that someone is not only going to ‘up’ the speed BUT also the gradient AND (c) to make matters worse, the stop button is broken and there is simply……NO. WAY. OFF.

Your peers ask you how it’s going and you tell them. You tell them the truth. You tell them it’s going well, and it IS going well, TOO F***ING WELL! And you hate yourself for questioning the now, and did we launch too early, and did we read enough articles about how to launch, and when is the right time to launch anyway, and why don’t have I more hours in the day, and WHY did nobody tell me this before!!!

So what have I learned?

The last three weeks have taught me many things, some of which I will now share with you because I’m good like that:

  • Team is EVERYTHING.
  • There is no such thing as a soft launch. You are either open for business or you’re not.
  • There needs to be a solid internal system in place to deal with ‘incomings’ (technical points, bugs, feature requests, user issues, ‘holy shit I’ve got no idea why that happened’ problems).
  • Set clear launch goals. Don’t fly blind.
  • Everyone has an opinion, even people who haven’t taken the time to sign up and look at the product properly have an opinion. Be gracious.
  • Accept and celebrate the imperfections knowing your users are all working on them for you.
  • Don’t be overly sensitive. Some babies are just ugly, it doesn’t mean to say they can’t grow into supermodels over time.
  • Stay in your own lane and focus on moving your own needle. You don’t need to see the full picture unless you are the CEO in which case it’s all on you.

You got this…….