Timing is everything. But when is the best time to launch your app? Hopefully you are reading this because your app is nearing the final stages of development and you are looking to plan ahead for the big launch. Fantastic! At Green Mango, we actually encourage you to launch your creation as early possible for a few reasons.
By launching your product early, you are able to get valuable user feedback right away before investing too much. If you don’t see any users at all, that in itself is feedback, which means it’s time to go back to the drawing board. However, if you do generate users shortly after launch it’s important that you figure out how to retain them.
Software does not require much effort to change. If you compare software to something tangible like a car, you will notice that the recall protocol is very different. General Motors sold a record number of cars back in 2014, 30.4 million of which were recalled. This issue cost GM a whopping $4.1 billion dollars to rectify. Modifications to software fortunately, can be easily delivered over the internet. This costs your company very little to fix. While patches won’t necessarily be detrimental when you need to modify your app, something like building the entirely wrong product will.
Are people excited that your product is solving a problem for them? If the public’s answers are either muted or nonexistent, then run back to the drawing board before you wind up spending too much. Egocentric companies in the past have created redundant products because they thought it was a good idea at the time while consumers did not agree. You and your team have lived and breathed your product Whether it’s a slight cause of Stockholm Syndrome or what have you, you become biased towards your own product. An early launch could either be successful or reality slapping you in the face- both of which should be seen as beneficial. Take all criticism constructively and use it to your advantage to create a better product that gets prospective users excited.
A launch, just like a software product, should be planned and coordinated. You should know which channels you intend to use to gain attention. If you have a strong social media following, then that’s an easy path. New products usually don’t have that luxury and need to turn to other methods of marketing. The paths here are endless and creativity is rewarded, but the bigger point is that you need to have a plan just like you did for the product itself.
Whether users have been waiting patiently for your app to launch or are just hearing about it for the first time, engage with them. Let your users know you care about them by engaging with them on social media. Email lists are also a viable option. Have an open flow of communication between you and your users. This encourages them to provide much needed feedback while feeling valued. Most importantly, react to their feedback- especially if they are finding new bugs and reporting them to you in hopes that you will help. This is important to retaining users. If they did not care, they would not bother giving feedback at all.
When launching an app, it’s much better to have it completed than perfect. A finished product will have bugs; that’s unavoidable. Anyone who might try to tell you otherwise does not understand software. Fixing bugs is a necessary part of the learning process. What you truly need for a successful product is feedback from potential users. This is why we recommend launching your app sooner rather than later.
Finding the right developer is crucial for your company. A mechanic can go to a car auction, buy a car, and flip it for profit. The mechanic is able to do this because of his or her knowledge and skills in the automobile industry. If an average person, like myself, attempted to do this, it would most likely end up costing me money in the end. I simply do not understand enough about the car market, car parts, or have the skills to make the right quick repairs.
Finding a developer to help you is not that different. You need a guide who understands what they are looking for. A CTO is often the one tasked with understanding tech hiring in a company, but if you don’t have a tech partner in the business yet, how will you find that first key person?
Your first tech hire should be someone who can help you on the tech side. Someone who has experience shipping products, but also someone who can help you to take over tech hiring going forward. Again, this is generally the job of the CTO or VP of Engineering. You need this person because not only will they know better how to interview the right talent, they will know which positions to fill and in what order, and they will significantly guide you in building the product. Their experience will give them your respect and the authority they need in conversations with you to help make the right decisions for the company.
Maybe you already know a developer or maybe someone was able to refer one to you. Great! What next? First of all, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself what skills you lack: How familiar are you with the steps required to build a product? Have you done it before or just read books about it? If you can’t code, you’re not going to be able to tell if your first hire is a good coder or good software architect. What you can do is look at the past things that they have shipped. Do you like what they have done? Were they successful? Think about the things you’ll want them to do in the company and ask them about those. Are they familiar with doing product management as well as coding? Are they comfortable being in charge of QA and managing the needed infrastructure? Do they have good taste in design or will you need to handle that or hire someone else? Are they comfortable creating tech budgets and doing tech hiring? Do they work with your meeting style?
Experienced and inexperienced developers have their advantages and disadvantages. A developer with years of experience has worked with more clients, has learned from their mistakes, and may make better project decisions. If you are looking for a less risky outcome, experience helps, but may cost you. You’re essentially decreasing your risk for a price.
Inexperienced developers are typically cheaper to work with. This is where you can look for a bargain with higher risk to your project. Mark Zuckerberg was relatively inexperienced when he built Facebook in college. There are countless examples of startups that excelled with less experienced engineers, but there are also countless failures. Some engineers improve and mature quickly, some find they aren’t cut out for it. It’s no different than hiring someone inexperienced to paint your house. You may get a great service for cheaper, or you may get drips of paint on your carpet and down your walls. You’re taking a gamble and you’re also not enlisting someone who can give you a strong experienced opinion. If you’re building a tech product ask yourself if you need someone who can tell you you’re wrong. Do you need a guide?
You can shop around and get quotes from top to bottom of the market. Clients occasionally forward me emails from other people who say they can do the work our company is doing for a quarter of the price. This type of comparison always makes me chuckle. Software is closer to art than plumbing. Imagine if someone requested a quote for the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris and then, shocked by the price, forwarded the museum a quote from someone who said they could copy it for $25. Just like I can get someone to paint me a copy of the Mona Lisa for $25, that does not mean the copy created has the same value as Leonardo da Vinci’s. That Mona Lisa copy is literally worthless on the open market, just like most software applications end up being. Most never get used. Most miss the mark completely.
In the same way, a different team will not get you the same product. Are you really in need of just programming or do you need a guide and partner on your journey to build the product you envisioned? Do you need someone who can help shape that idea into something people will love as well? In my experience this is what most people need and want.