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Is it normal to be delayed with the launch?

So we first had a plan to start taking in the first of our beta testers at the end of November, but as we ran into some unforeseen challenges with the development, we had to delay it by 2 weeks. When we got to the end of the two weeks we could see that we needed a minimum of two more weeks and due to the holidays, there will automatically be an additional delay of 1 week, as our 6 employees must, of course, have time off.

We are therefore here today and can again, unfortunately, state that there are still two weeks left in the development and if more unforeseen challenges arise, this may well take over a month.

My concern is about our early beta testers, who signed up for the waiting list in September. I wonder if they have forgotten all about us (we do not send annoying newsletters), as we have spent so much time just getting our beta version ready.

My question to IH is if this is normal and if some of you others have tried to run into several recurring delays? - In addition, how do you handle those who are waiting for your product?

  1. 3

    Personally, unless you're developing a game where the expectations of users will be super high, I think our aim should be "good enough".

    You need to get to an MVP state which means it won't be perfect but it'll help you validate your idea and business model. Things you may think are important may wind up being irrelevant to your users.

    I think going live, even without important features and with bugs is more important than getting it perfect.

    1. 1

      Hey Steve, thanks for your reply.

      We had the first mvp out in July, which taught us some extremely important things. That learning, we then spent August and partly September on making validations with pretotypes (screenshots that sold the dream of our product), where we then after the following from September started building it, which is our first usable beta version. It is the beta version that is delayed and since our "sales pitch" has set up that the features that cover the users' minimum needs will, of course, be ready for them, my fear is that if we just open now it would disappoint them.
      It must then be said that those features are minimally functional so that they just accurately cover the need and no more. It just takes longer than first assumed.

      Agree that you should get your stuff out and fly as fast as possible, but if you want to build a plane then it is important it has at least wings. Not perfect wings, but at least some that can keep the plane in the air.

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        Thanks for the context - that was helpful. Yes, I agree with everything you stated. I understand your concern but I think launching the beta as it is sooner still helps you with more validation. Maybe you can open the pool of beta users up to people that haven't previously been involved in these conversations. Meaning, they have no preconceived notions of what you're building.

        I agree - I did try to prioritize some asks our users have had and get those in - the first round of localization being up there in their priorities. We have users waiting for another round of localizations but we really need to implement our in-app purchase model first (and resolve some major technical issues), before we get back to other user-centric features.

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          Maybe you can open the pool of beta users up to people that haven't previously been involved in these conversations.

          Yes, and it is also the idea that the first 5-10 are invited in and find 80% of the errors before everyone else. It's going to happen soon.

          but we really need to implement our in-app purchase model first (and resolve some major technical issues), before we get back to other user-centric features.

          Exactly, This is also something to be aware of. one thing is user-centric features, another thing is pricing engine, in-app tracking/dashboards, in-app testing capabilities, cost optimization, and other very important tasks that just require time and resources. So it's also a matter of priorities, which you yourself describe.

          How do you choose which tasks are most important to get done?

          1. 1

            One of the first things we did was to implement in-app ratings and reviews that trigger two weeks after install. I use user feedback to set the majority of my priorities.

            We get enough 5 and 4 star reviews to justify charging for the app but I've read that many Android users won't pay up front. I've also experienced that - low conversions and our downloads drop significantly.

            So, we need to implement an in-app upgrade path. We decided the best way to do that was to have a free trial, a free version with ads, and the paid version. That meant some pretty big coding changes and very little ability to add more user-centric features but it has to be done. Once we start to generate some consistent revenue, we'll do more work for localizations and other features.

            We also get a lot of 1 star reviews. Unfortunately, we can't reliably discover all Bluetooth devices for all flavors of Android. So we're also re-writing the parts of the app that do Bluetooth device discovery and identification.

            1. 1

              I use user feedback to set the majority of my priorities.

              Basically, a good rule to have.

              We decided the best way to do that was to have a free trial, a free version with ads, and the paid version. That meant some pretty big coding changes and very little ability to add more user-centric features but it has to be done.

              Yes, definitely.

              Good work with your app btw. 100k downloads are pretty good.

              Let me know if you would like to keep an eye on your SEO I would be happy to help.

              1. 1

                Thanks! I'm definitely trying to get more organic traffic. I've been updating several of our articles and have written a couple of new ones.

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                  Yes the right way to go. Just remember to spice those post with some contextual relevant backlinks :-)

  2. 3

    I would say it's pretty common to be delayed with the launch.

    I wanted to have some features ready by end of November (so I could launch), and with the reality hitting me in the head and all, I will have them ready by start-mid of March. And then probably another 2-4 weeks of testing.

    I do think we're always overly optimistic when it comes to implementing features (and I'm saying this as a developer).

    1. 1

      Holy cow, that scenario scares me.

      How did you communicate it to your customers/users?

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        Nothing to communicate. I'm free while in beta.

      2. 1

        I don't actually communicate this to the users when this happens to me. I haven't seen others communicate it too.

        If you email your entire list, saying we need 10 more days and couldn't deliver, you have to say that again to them. It'd be spammy in a way.

        I would just put up on the website that the launch date has changed. If I get any emails, I would respond personally or collect each of these questions about the launch and launch an email automation addressing it's delayed to the interested people alone.

        1. 1

          That's why I have not sent out any emails yet. On the other hand, I can see the value in giving a status update, so we again point out that we are ready soon and activating our early sign ups, do you think that would makes sense?

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            I understand your concern.

            As you said, they may have forgot you, and it may be delayed more. So, you can maybe try something really helpful and point that launch is delayed or a status update in one corner. Make it such a way they're glad you emailed.

            If you're selling MarTech product for real estate, for example. You can email something like Real Estate Marketing Trends 2020. This way they'll get value out of your first email, even if they forgot it won't present a problem, and you will get your status update point across.

            1. 1

              Thanks for the advice.

  3. 2

    My two cents with experience in this. We had 70 subscribers and when we launched after few months only 30 of them signed up. Although we got new customers but its painful to see old subscribers not going through the signup process.

    1. 1

      I had 53 subs for join.coulf.com, it was only 6 that actually signed up. Your product's conversions are great in comparison.

      1. 1

        Ah ok. I was expecting 90% conversion since it is my first startup. Will know what to expect for other product launches now.

    2. 1

      Yes, that is exactly what we are worried about if we take too long to get started. Do you think it will help to send an update email here at the end of the year so we can get ourselves noticed again?

      1. 1

        Yeah you should I believe. Subscribers who want your product will welcome the email and who subscribed in the moment might unsubscribe. It might feel like it backfired but they were never your real customer. So don’t feel bad if not all subscribers converted into users.

        Also we had some subscribers who signed up on the website even before us telling them about it. Which means they were regularly checking the website and confirming if we launched or not.

        1. 1

          yes clearly it is like with web traffic, if it does not generate any sales/leads etc, it is irrelevant traffic.

          1. 1

            Sure thing. Signing up takes more commitment than just providing an email

            1. 1

              Yes, and in our case, email, name, website, and language, lol.

  4. 2

    Hey Julian,

    don't worry too much about launches. You can and should launch several times until you're happy with it. Case in point: https://twitter.com/bchesky/status/312438036929576962

    "we do not send annoying newsletters". You shouldn't think about it this way. I would recommend you send updates to your beta users to let them know what's going on and ask for their feedback/opinion. This will help you:

    1. Stay relevant to your audience and make sure they don't forget about you. They most likely have a lot of other things going and your product might not be at the top of their list.

    2. Build a relationship with them and make them feel part of the journey. This is one reason why many people like to be "beta users". They want the chance to help shape the product.

    Best of luck with the launch!

    1. 3

      Hi Karim, Thank you so much for these advices.
      Maybe I should rethink the "newsletter" and make one a follow-up letter. It could even come as an "the end of 2020" update ;-)

  5. 1

    My concern is about our early beta testers, who signed up for the waiting list in September. I wonder if they have forgotten all about us.

    I would send them updates on the progress every one or two months to keep them in the loop.

  6. 1

    Referencing game development here, but in the famous words of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad".

    If it's a B2C product, your consumers will understand you're trying to get the best product in their hands. Your users will appreciate timely communication with transparency on the development progress; don't be afraid to tell them what's gone wrong and how you're working on fixing it.

    1. 1

      Cyberpunk somehow managed to be delayed and bad 😂

    2. 1

      Yes, and that's what we're trying to do, right. i.e. to have a version that can actually be used as well. Because we could in theory well have opened up already in early December, but then there will be some essential features that we know are important to our users that could not have been available.

      So do you think that we should have the features ready we have promised our sign-ups or should we just open up to what we have, even if essential features are missing?

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