Tips on Launching a Startup

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This probably goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway… Launching a startup is not easy. About two weeks ago I launched Video Rascal in beta and there’s already been plenty of ups and downs. As I progress through my journey of trying to build a business I’ll take you on the inside and divulge the good, bad, the ugly and everything in between. My hope is that other Entrepreneurs can replicate some my successes and learn from my mistakes.

In the weeks since I launched Video Rascal I’ve learned a lot about myself, and more importantly, the product than I ever could have imagined. Before launch I thought everything was in place for a flawless launch. The site was tested in all browsers, marketing was in place, autoresponders were setup etc. So I hit send on the launch email announcement and……crickets… After months of preparation there was one thing I didn’t pay enough attention to, the email subject line. My email was deposited directly into the Spam folder of hundreds of recipients. Before realizing what happened, the worst went through my mind. Nobody cares about the product, the email registrants were fake, the company is doomed! After a day of panicking I realized my mistake and resent the email with an improved subject line. Lesson learned, don’t use the word “exclusive” in your subject line.

Beyond the subject line here are a few other things I would have done differently.

Share wire frames with outsiders

I’ve received a ton of useful feedback and suggestions on the UI. Much of it now seems so obvious. As is often the case, when working with a product everyday, your view becomes clouded. Things that should be obvious aren’t. Had I simply solicited feedback on the wire frames earlier in the process I could have avoided having to make some of the changes . Next time I’ll share the wire frames with 5-10 people before beginning development.

Email registrants often before the launch

I began collecting emails a year ago, thinking I was going launch in a few months. But as it often does, development kept getting delayed. The longer I delayed the launch the staler the email list got. In hindsight I should have emailed the list a few times before during this quiet period. Even though my launch email open rate was very high (53%) I believe it could have been higher. My data showed that the earlier a user signed up for the email list the less likely they were to open the launch email.

Be prepared to quickly make changes

Being a solo entrepreneur there’s a lot on my plate and a constant need to prioritize tasks. It’s easy to get bogged down with tasks that don’t necessarily move the needle. Looking back I should have been more prepared to act quickly on user feedback. How great would it have been if I could have responded to users with UI updates in a day rather than a week? Had I focused strictly on improving the product during the first week I could have made this happen.

What would you have done differently when you launched your product? Leave a comment and let me know.

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