Category Archives: Startup Lessons

Lean Startup Lessons

Don’t rush for marketing launch

One of my pet peeves is that some startups focus too much on the press as marketing or user acquisition strategies. The attitude is much more strong in Japanese companies, but you see it everywhere.

The idea of coordinated product and marketing launch probably stems from the experience at more established companies. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it doesn’t really make sense for early stage startups. Because, at that point, you are still figuring out the right product for the right market (yes, this is marketing as well), and your assumption could be totally wrong. The power of such press coverage isn’t much of discovery, it is about amplification. So, if you are wrong, you will let everybody knows that you have no clue. Not a smart thing to do, is it?

Today’s GigaOM article better explains this point with quotes from Eric Ries, so check it out.

Or worse, you are maybe skipping “figuring out” phase and simply believe that once you build your awesome product and get grand publicity for it, people will flock to your product and the user number skyrocket from there on. I must say that’s just too naïve. Yes, that happens and you could be one of the lucky ones, but the likelihood of this happening is so small, you (or your investor) will end up wasting lots of money and time.

Product launch and marketing launch can be and should be separated. By all means, go out with your product early and iterate often. You can’t be at the other end of spectrum, stealth mode, being too secretive about what you are making. Because you won’t be learning anything in that way.

Getting some press coverage by  influential media certainly gives you a wave of traffic, but if you are not ready to ride on that wave, it could work against you. As getting on such media is not an easy task, you should use your shot wisely.

Startup Lessons

The art of the start and moving a step forward

One of the easiest traps I realized when I had an operational role in a startup was to get buried by everyday stuff to do. Doing this research, updating tweets, tracking a bug, preparing that report, responding to unclear business inquiry, etc. etc.

Getting things done makes you feel good for sure. But, you need to make sure that the stuff you are doing and checking off of your list is the right thing to do at the time. If it is not necessary or doesn’t have any impact on desired outcome, then the time and energy you used to finish the task is complete waste. Even worse, it gives you a false sense of accomplishment.

There are only a few things that matter depending on your phase. Get a new user. Make a user happy. Engage a user. Decreases user dropout. Increase revenue.  So on and so forth. Does the stuff you are doing right now contribute to any of these?

Most of the to-dos and daily routine were planned at some point to address these, but they may not be appropriate any longer. Situation may have changed or they simply have lost meaning behind once assigned to someone else.

It’s about the old efficiency vs. effectiveness dilemma. There is no point in executing wrong things perfectly.

It is so easy though to postpone what really matters. Life goes on by attacking to-do list heads down day in and day out. Especially so when you are swamped or even have a not-so-enlightened micromanaging boss. What you have to do is to step back once in a while and evaluate if you are moving to the right direction.

You gotta start and move a step forward. Easier said than done, I know. This is a note to myself as well. I had procrastinated for too long to do this first post. The theme and rest of the setting is not done yet, but so what, it doesn’t matter.