6 Reasons to Launch Slowly

Startups should move fast... except when they shouldn't

Hey y’all — if you’ve been a reader for a while you’ve probably heard me say that speed is your biggest advantage as a founder.

Big companies are slow.

They have approvals processes, teams that compete for pixel space, and are filled with employees consumed by hitting OKRs to advance their own careers first and foremost.

And if startups need to be fast, it follows that you should launch fast.

But there’s a common mistake here.

It doesn’t actually matter how fast you ship. It matters how fast you learn.

In most cases these are the same, and shipping fast and often can stand in as a proxy for learning fast. After all, you learn from your users.

But there are cases when it’s better to launch slowly and with intention.

This week’s issue is about those cases.

6 Reasons to Launch Slowly

Your Product has Network Effects

Unlike single-player products, multi-sided networks can only launch once (unless you reboot the whole thing).

Especially in social product, in order to achieve a high k-factor and true virality you need to nail the UX from the moment a user is introduced to the product and onboarded.

Additionally, downtime and other performance disruptions can dilute user trust in the network which can force them to look for alternatives. It’s hard to win that back.

I’m currently working on a new part of Megaphone that has network effects and I pushed our launch back by a month to ensure we had time to perfect the experience. This is despite our initial product being launched in a super scrappy fashion.

The way to still learn quickly ahead of launch is to spend a lot of time with your users to learn their expected behaviors and, perhaps more importantly, motivations for using your product.

You’re Targeting Enterprise Customers

Selling into the enterprise from day 1 is a risky bet.

The sales cycles are long and take up considerable time with many meetings, all while the deals can fall apart for internal strategy shifts or politics that are completely outside of your control.

But if you are targeting enterprise customers early on, or if you’re a bit further along and looking to expand upmarket into enterprise deals, you’re better off taking the time to polish your product before committing to sign deals and accept revenue.

Enterprise deals have strict expectations for the quality of the product you’re delivering and what that product will enable for your customers to accomplish with it. They’ve built roadmaps and oriented teams around using your tool or service.

The stakes are high — if you fail to deliver, the deal will terminate and all the time you put in will be for nothing.

To still learn quickly, you’re better off being customer-led so that your product roadmap can be directly informed by the prospective enterprise clients.

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