You got an idea. Product development is in the pipeline. But seeing as this is your baby. You’re tempted to wait it out until your product is bug-free, has all the features you planned included and is the perfect representation of what you envisioned. The trouble is that you’d want to it keep under wraps until everything is perfect to avoid losing face.
Doing so leaves you at a disadvantage. You’ll be unable to gauge the interest of your target market and fail to gain feedback on further improvements being asked for by your market.
When I wrote “Why Nobody Cares About Your Technology?” I emphasized about having something to show for what you’re doing, such as a prototype or a demo. Especially if you’re looking to pitch it to investors.
You need to start from somewhere and build upon that first version. Regardless of whether you consider it ready or not. You need to release it immediately, in order to take advantage of the following benefits…
This can’t stress this enough! Whether your product is buggy or lacking in features – you’re better off releasing what you got and listening to the feedback coming in. In the process you’ll get valuable insights as to how your product is performing.
Cover costs & raise capital
The brutal truth is that you’ll be tight on cash in the beginning. Releasing a working prototype in the beginning will help you raise capital and raise awareness for your product. If the idea is good and there’s sufficient demand, you could attract people who can lend you a helping hand.
Get beta testers to be your evangelists
Product not ready yet and still needs some fixes? Release it anyway, but call it a beta version and invite your network to participate in the beta testing. Not only will you able to use the feedback to iterate the product and fine tune it – but you’re beta users can help market your product.
A prime example to follow is that of Finnish startup Walkbase. Before the launch of their Android app, Checked – Walkbase created a Facebook group of beta testers comprised of friends and colleagues. Where they could communicate with each other and provide feedback. They did the same now with their new app Tweagle.
This process allows Walkbase to identify problems and improve their app. While at the same getting friends and colleagues involved helps spread the word through social media.
In the end, people pay attention when you have something to show them.
If you’re looking for venture capital – don’t approach investors with a 30 page business plan. Your time is better spent getting a prototype ready – that will speak volumes as to what your capabilities are as an entrepreneur.
You also stand to benefit from the networking as a result of including your target market in the development and testing of your product. And because you included them in the early stages – they’re more inclined to spread the word about your product to their network.