June 2, 2019

Avoid "Big launches"

Harry Dry @harrydry

In my opinion there is a negative correlation between "size of launch" and company longevity.

Founders place a lot of value on a "big launch" to mask the fact that there is no sustainable follow up plan.

In the weeks after the launch they get discouraged. "My traffic is down ... " "My sales are down ... " and not long after it's all over


  1. 4

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I recently launched an Android version of my app, Happyfeed (a gratitude journal) on PH. I signed up for Ship Pro and got about 42 subscriptions pre-launch all from my website traffic.

    Anyway, come launch day, I set up all the things - email blast, tweets, product images, etc. but ended up in the last place for the day (ouch). I've seen other, very similar products, do much better with their launches.

    In the end, it doesn't really matter, because the Android app has been growing steadily and actually boosting growth in my original iOS app. It sucked to have such a lame launch day, and I think a soft launch would've led to less frustration.

    My thoughts now? You really need a full-time person focused on your launch if you want to go big. As a solo/technical founder, I didn't take the time to focus on the launch, so it turned into more of a distraction. I didn't have the brain space between bug fixes and last-minute features to really think about a serious launch plan. (Not just on PH, but reaching out to press and all that jazz.) Waiting another month or two would've been a hell of a lot smarter.

    1. 2

      cool product btw :)

    2. 2

      Interesting read. I've had similar experiences.

      Your, "In the end, it doesn't really matter ..." point is where I'm at with it.

      Only thing I disagree with is the "full time person" point. I think it's more about the type of product. Some products are just very shareable and some aren't. but that doesn't reflect the quality of business ...

      1. 2

        That's a great point. Maybe I'm just trying to articulate how difficult it is to try and do development work and marketing at the same time, more generally. You wouldn't necessarily need a full-time person, but I personally find marketing to be difficult without giving it all my attention.

        Maybe it's just a matter of time management? Or spacing out the dev work and launch announcement?

        Agreed too that some products market themselves, especially to the right audience.

  2. 4

    As a developer, big launches cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Worried about whether the roll out will work, worried about if the rollback plan will work, worried about being off ill with the cold on launch day, so much worry.

    These days I'm trying more of a release-small-and-release-often approach. I'm trying to break down releases into 2 week deliverables and if it's bigger than 2 weeks then it needs simplified / broken down again. Still early days with this but seems to be doing wonders for my motivation.

  3. 4

    Just treat every one of your "Big Launches" as a "soft launch" (read "experiment"), then learn from it and repeat :)

    1. 2

      yes sir

  4. 2

    This is part of why I think we'll be doing our ProductHunt launch in August, despite doing our "official launch" in June (and even though we've been publicly available since early February)

    1. 2

      Yup, I am going to do a soft launch pretty soon for my product and leave it out there for anyone to sign up. I will do Product Hunt, Twitter and such later. I am honestly expecting a low sign up rate, especially early on.

    2. 1

      Will be doing this as well.

    3. 1

      yep. this is textbook imo

  5. 2

    What would you do instead?

    1. 6
      • launch early + quietly
      • get feedback from friends + online friends ...
      • improve
      • launch on twitter / IH (wherever else your audience might be ...)
      • improve
      • start gathering a small audience (twitter followers / emails)
      • you're product is still in it's infancy at this point
      • improve
      • 2/3 months later (as you product becomes more solid ) try a bigger launch. Product Hunt etc ...
      • cause you have all your small audience ready to upvote + shout about your product ...


      definitely contextual. fyre festival benefitted from a "big launch".

  6. 1

    The same mistake I did. From the first day, I hunted my product on Product Hunt. It has been more than a week now, and it has only a total of...3 upvotes, from which one is mine...

    Next time I launch something, I'll avoid putting it on Product Hunt if it's not that "original" or doesn't make you go "aha!".

  7. 1

    I agree. In fact, I think you never really "launch". Or you are launching every day, to be more precise.

    It might be a good idea to coordinate things like posting on ProductHunt, PR, some email outreach.... You will finish that, maybe see a spike in traffic, maybe not. Usually it will turn out that the stress was totally unnecessary.

    Then what? This is the real "launch", how you talk to people every day and market your product, at least for smaller companies. It is not a good use of time to think like you're already Google or Amazon and you are making this big serious announcement to all the major online publications etc... Building a real audience every day will get you more users in the long run.

    1. 2

      yep. couldn't have put it any better myself!