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just launched with a Minimum Viable Product

October 18, 2011

My startup is launched today with a rental resume feature. As you can see, it’s more like a feature than a product. Nonetheless, Merrick and I emailed, tweeted, commented, blogged – all the social network marketing work. The result for the first day is we have 30 unique visitors, and one account sign up. (Thanks Jin. You are the best.)

My feelings about the launch is mixed – filled with doubts and sense of clarity at the same time. From the start I knew building a start-up was going to be hard, but today I felt like my face hit the pavement. Doubts about the features, the ecosystem, the industry attractiveness overall started bubbling up my head. Back when we were in stealth mode, it’s so much easier to convince ourselves we are right. We dreamed about being the XX of rental. (Insert big comany names in XX) But when there is no one using our product, it is the most painful feeling. In in mist of the doubts, there is also a sense of clarity. Our feet are finally on the ground. By launching the site, we essentially cut the ability for us to day dream about how successful we could be. It clears our mind and helps me focus on whatever situation that comes up from this point.

We agonized over the past weekend on the launch / no launch decision. If we wait for the delayed rental request, review, credit report, and endorsement features, the site would look much more professional, but it would push the launch back another month or more. I was feeling anxious. Working on coding but not getting any feedback from any users feels like walking in the dark – I never know if I’m going to trip over the next moment. I wanted to hear from users, even bad feedbacks. Then, we talked about the scenarios for launching today. Although we thought it is a weak value proposition, it wouldn’t hurt for us to confirm it anyway. Sure, we will both be embarrassed knowing that what we have is not strong, but what do we got to lose? We can’t lose much from having nothing.

The upside of launching is we get in the rhythm of test-measure-learn. Plus it will jump start the marketing and customer engagement side of the business. If the users tell us there is a crucial feature missing, we can learn a great deal, even if it was something we already planned. Psychologically, we are upping the ante if we show a public face.

In the spirit of being agile and lean, we launched the site. I can’t say I’m proud of the product the way it is now, but I felt we are at the right place.

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2 Comments
  1. Is it alright to place part of this in my personal weblog if I submit a reference point to this site?

    • go ahead. we end up trashing this feature, but we learned a lot along the way to help us pivot into our current set of features.

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