Here at Aware Monitoring HQ we’re moving rapidly towards launching our website monitoring service. But what is the best and most effective way to launch a web/SaaS app. I’ve trawled through the Internet and talked to several of my startup friends for ideas. To get some practical launch hints and tips my co-founder Simon Oxley and I met-up with the founders of one of the UK’s and worlds top 50 startups – Huddle.net.
Huddle started providing on-line shared workspaces in 2006 and launched in 2007. Since then they’ve attracted 100,000’s of users, secured two rounds of VC funding (Eden Ventures) and partnered with LinkedIn/InterCall. The team also regularly presents at US and UK conferences.
An Awesome Launch pad!
Depending on your budget, location, contacts and available time there are several ways to launch:
- Live on stage!! – Launch big at an specialised startup launch event such as Demo or TechCrunch50. Lots of Tech press and investors will to be there all looking for a scoop on the next big thing. Andy McLoughlin and his co-founder Alastair Mitchell from Huddle launched at Demo in 2008. The catch is its not cheap. This years Demo costs $18,500! Andy & Ali did get one really good customer though. Also these events are US only.
- Shhhhh…. – No razzmatazz, just quietly leak your new app into the market. Its cheap and there’s no high pressure expectations from new users. The bigger the launch, the harder the fall if the users don’t like it. A quite launch means you’ve got time to get the app right with users. However keep your fingers crossed that your target community hears about your new app and the word goes viral. Bloggers can help to spread the word when your ready.
- Conference bandwaggon – There are a ton of localised Tech conferences where you can launch. Some of them have launch pads especially for startups. To name but a few conferences: Web 2.0 (USA), Le Web (France), Office 2.o (USA), FOWA (UK), etc. These conferences are much cheaper than the big Startup launch events, however the message will not have the same impact with the press or investors.
- “Read all about it” – Press releases are a well worn route when launching. Target the press you want to been seen in and engage with PR freelancer/company. Or take the cheaper option try and contact the press yourself. Unfortunately they are so busy they will rarely listen unless its someone they know.
- Stand on preachers corner – Talk to everyone who will listen: friends, family, ex-colleagues, first/secondary degree contacts, etc . Everyone and anyone! Forums and communities where your target users hang out are also a good place to engage. But DON’T sell to them or they’ll kick you out. This options cheap and targeted.
With or without a bulging budget its hard to be heard above all the startup noise. Although there are 65% less new startups right now. Which ever way you launch one of the most important things to remember is engage with real could-be customers as early as possible. Customers ultimately equals profits, whereas Tech community does not necessarily. Here is a good (but long) talk on launching/early customer engagement from a wiley old Valley Tech startup vet, Steve Blank.