Committed entrepreneurs are always strategizing about their startups. Even in their sleep.
They plan the startup’s journey, their exit, and most things in between. Something that is often missed, but also deserves thought and strategy, is the startup’s launch.
How a startup launches can pave the way for its future success or failure.
The following are three launch strategies entrepreneurs might want to consider when launching their web or mobile startup.
Facebook did not always have 750 million users. It was once hosted internally at Harvard and only open for use by students of the college. When it dominated that institution by achieving majority adoption, it was opened up to other Ivy League colleges, before the masses like our moms and dads were able to jump on.
By this time, Facebook already had widespread usage, and along the way, it had attracted advocates which led to its aggressive, viral push into the masses.
Whether intended or not, the niche market for Facebook’s launch was College students, who were a captive audience for a social network as they knew their friends and peers were also members.
My guess is that had Facebook’s launch been mainstream-first rather than niche-first, people would have joined at random, and once they noticed their friends were not around, they might have quickly disappeared. Google tried that tactic unsuccessfully with Buzz.
2. Invites only
This seems to be the “in” thing at the moment, and will only work if it comes together with a dramatic amount of ‘buzz’ generated by popular founders, investors, advocates, ambassadors, etcetera.
Google’s latest foray into social with Google Plus is proving far more successful due to the adoption of an invites-only launch, while other startups like Fab.com, Gilt Groupe and Spotify (in the U.S.) have seen millions join as members with this approach.
Staged launches are still very popular, but must have a logical reason. A user must understand why a startup is only part-launching.
This reason could be to allow users to sign up to claim their profile names (vanity URLS) before they are taken as many have done in recent times. Or it could be to fill up a database, which is a launch approach one of our KAYWEB Angels portfolio companies – WhoIsGreen.com – recently adopted.
Eventually, WhoIsGreen.com will be a directory for sustainable businesses, but before launching the search engine, the founders launched their BETA 1 stage, which allowed sustainable businesses to join and add their information so they can appear in the search results.
Entrepreneurs do not have to choose one of the above strategies for launch, but they must think up a launch strategy for their startup. As sampled above, a well-thought-out launch often translates to a successful online business.