When’s the Perfect Time to Launch Your Startup?

May 20, 2014

10:00 am

This post includes extra content from Startup Mixology, my upcoming book on starting up – including how to prepare yourself for the harsh reality and celebrate positive moments along the way. Go here to pre-order the book (due July 8) and subscribe to updates!

When’s the best time to launch or make some noise?

You can test and iterate your way to a successful product, but launch doesn’t exactly work that way. For the most part, you only get one chance. To avoid a flopped launch and the regret of “What if we had waited until Wednesday?,” here are some ideas to consider.

News cycle

Try to steer clear of days that are news-heavy – like an Apple announcement. Sometimes, however, you can piggyback on news events to get coverage as part of a bigger conversation. For example, WordStream released a press release and infographic three days before Facebook’s IPO called “Facebook ads: Do they even work?” and got 10,000 media mentions. Betabrand did it to perfection with the launch of the “executive hoodie,” which was basically a cross between a hoodie sweatshirt and pinstripe blazer. They captured people’s attention by launching the week that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took some heat for visiting Wall Street in his classic hoodie and sandals prior to the Facebook IPO. The story was no longer about a funky piece of clothing, but about a product that would be perfect for Zuckerberg.

Seasons

Seasonality can also be key. In 2008, I cofounded a company called Shiny Heart Ventures that created a simple gratitude journaling product called Thankfulfor. Honing in on Thanksgiving, we launched our beta product months before the holidays to do testing and reach out to media. Being proactive paid off, as CNN and dozens of other publications covered Thankfulfor over the Thanksgiving holiday, giving it a huge boost in new users.

Learning from this experience, we devoted even more preparation the following year. We created a “gratitude index” that leveraged Thankfulfor data to determine what people were thankful for. We used CrowdFlower to sift through all the anonymous user data and turn it into a full report on people’s gratitude, complete with a beautiful infographic. It was a hit with reporters and got picked up by Mashable and dozens of other publications – again helping to increase our user base.

Days of the week

The day of the week when you launch your product can also be important. Across the web, almost all sites see a dip in traffic on the weekends as people break free from their computers. Friday launches tend to get lost in the shuffle of the weekend, and no one is paying attention on Sunday morning. Instead, a Monday or Tuesday launch can attract readers throughout the week and leave room for follow-ups with reporters.

Just do it

Most importantly, set a deadline or launch date and try to stick to it. It forces you to focus and figure out the most essential features and ship those. Don’t wait for perfect. Jason Fried of Basecamp believes you should have a set time and budget, and be willing to reduce the scope of your first product. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, is commonly attributed as saying, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” So get something out the door.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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