Posts Tagged ‘Launch’

The pointbreak of a live demo & product launch

October 5, 2009

There’s been much talk of demo’s and launches over the last  month with TechCrunch50 and DEMOfall09. It’s also been at the fore front of our minds with our startups launch and live demo at FOWA, London. I’ve posted about the pro’s and con’s launching at startup conferences. Launching at an event is an emotional roller coaster of a ride with the preparation effort required, pre-event expectations and then the post launch reality. Looking  back the launch peak is a brief moment in time after a long development  journey and before the journey to acquire real customers begins.

Killer WaveKiller Wave (Source: Telegraph ‘Beautiful but deadly’ )

Great  advice on  live demo and launch for startups includes: RRW and Jason Calacanis – Part 1 and Part 2.

Sean Power: “It may be the single biggest traffic spike you’ll ever experience.”, “After the bump, you’ll feel a tremendous rush of adrenaline, then deep, soul-sucking disillusionment as your traffic dwindles back to its former levels.”

There is so much effort needed to build and develop a product in preparation for a five minute launch demo (forgive me for my reminiscing links to many of my past posts):

  1. Finding the team – Getting a great team together is not easy but it’s key to a successful startup.
  2. Identifying the opportunity – Finding a killer idea first of is near-on-impossible or at least improbable.
  3. Getting the investment – Making the money last long enough to build a working saleable product is a ‘Scrooge’ like challenge.
  4. Building the app – Staying on target and not veering off on another exciting project is tricky.
  5. Polishing the app – This takes time and you don’t have much of it. The devil is unfortunately in the detail.
  6. Making it scalable – To prepare to scale or not to scale is a difficult question. No one knows the traffic and usage you will get.
  7. Preparing a memorable demoIn summary Jason Calacanis says: show the product quickly; give a succinct presentation; temp the audiences; talk about accomplishments rather than roadmaps and show understanding of the competition.

Wow, what a journey!! This is why many startups fail to ever get a product  finailsed and launched. The decisions made during each of the above stages directly affects the outcome of the final 5 minute demo. However  this onstage  peak is only a brief  moment in time and a pause before the start of  a new journey.

After the curtains have closed at the conference its when the real hard work starts. You now have to convince customers and investors. The good news is that your startup will be taken a little more seriously because you’ve got a product. However, doubt will remain and very few really believe you have a good idea that will succeed because you have no customers. You now need to be flexible,  customer centric and have  a renewed determination to succeed.

The live demo launch is yet another emotionally intense thrill ride for startup founders. It is a deadline which gets things done and moves your startup towards the all important goal of getting customers.  “Buckel up because Kansas is going bye, bye.” – For the  5 minute demo anyway and then it’s back to reality 😉


Do-It-Yourself startup PR

September 23, 2009

Even with today’s social media channels such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc Press Releases remain a popular  form of communication.  PR for a startup is about establishing a new reputation and trying to get people talking about you and your product. However the press are a fickle bunch and tricky to deal with. Getting a mention in a press article or story can be very valuable and worth the effort trying.

Big megaphone

We launch our new website monitoring app to the world live on stage next week! I’ve discussed how to launch a web app before. As a bootstrapping startup we’ve needed to keep costs down. I wanted to get a PR freelancer in to help with the launch however cash is becoming increasingly tighter and so we’re running the PR ourselves.

The press are notoriously difficult to get hold of and engage with, however there is a small chance your message may get through. Doing the PR yourself has it positives. The founder’s know the product and are more passionate than anyone else.  Guy Kawasaki is positive about going it alone PR. Here’s a guide to developing and managing a startup Do-It-Yourself PR launch plan:

  1. Target audience – Be clear in your own mind who they are and be certain you know where they hang-out i.e. what sites they visit and which blogs, newspapers do they read.
  2. Key messages – Decide what they are. Some of this comes back to your marketing straplines and what the company/product stands for.
  3. Target press list – Who are you going to contact and what are their contact details. Find out what  excites and interests these journalists.
  4. Story – Develop a story that the press maybe interested in. It could be feel good, topical or a current trend. Above all the message needs to show how you are different from your competitors. Find good example press releases and learn how to write one. Here’s a useful article on writing press releases: ‘How to: write the perfect press release for journalists’.
  5. Press release – Draft up a press release based on the key messages. Also make sure you have a news and resource page on your website/blog including a range of screenshots and logo’s. Then send out your story.
  6. Pitch – Next get on the phone like crazy and pitch the hell out of your story to the press contacts. Entrepreneurial determination makes the difference here.
  7. Targets – Set some targets for your PR campaign. That way you keep focused and motivated.

Chris Lee, a PR freelancer for startups, has some further advice on managing your own PR.

Timing is also an extremely important factor. Everything including your message and press release needs to be prepared the week before your launch and press contact made during the launch week. Good luck. Your message may get through.. The press are tricky to deal with, however if you don’t try you never know. Remember “Who dares wins” 😉

New Aware Monitoring blog: One v.small step for man, one giant leap for us

August 7, 2009

Here at Aware Monitoring HQ we’re moving rapidly towards the beta of our new website/web app monitoring service. We’ve been very busy building the app. It takes longer than you want or expect to develop a web app. But that’s  quite normal. We released our launchpage six months ago.  Since then we’ve been very quite.  That’s about to change.

Apollo Launch

An Apollo rocket launch

We’ve set-up a new Aware Monitoring blog to keep you upto date with our final beta steps and launching the app. This will be our fifth blog: this one (obviously); Simon my co-founders home page and the blog – our adventure into the world of Enterprise 2.0.  Exciting times ahead!!

5 ways to Launch a new Web/SaaS App

June 19, 2009

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 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.

Launch pad

An Awesome Launch pad!

Depending on your budget, location, contacts and available time there are several ways to launch:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. “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.
  5. 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.