Ep. #699 - How to Launch a Software Product
In this episode of Startup Hustle, tune in to Part 35 of “How to Start a Tech Company” as Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson discuss how to launch a software product successfully.
Covered In This Episode
You’ve built your MVP. Your go-to-market strategy is ready. Now, the next step for your startup is to launch your software product. But how do you do it successfully? Matt and Matt are here to talk about how to launch a software product.
In this episode, the Matts explains what founders need to know when launching a software product. They share that founders need to define what their product is first. Keeping everything ready (such as communications and sales plans) is the way to go. Additionally, Matt and Matt provide expert advice on software product launching based on their experiences.
Join the Matts in this Startup Hustle episode to learn how to launch a software product.
- Introduction to episode 35 (0:36)
- What software are you launching? (2:36)
- Nobody knows that your app exists (3:53)
- The marketplace has two sides: Buyers and Sellers (6:19)
- Create your ads early and set them for the future (10:49)
- Be prepared with your plans: Communications, Sales, etc. (15:37)
- The importance of listening to customer feedback (21:06)
- Set realistic goals for your product launch (26:44)
- Know the right price for your product before the launch (30:33)
- When is the best time to launch a product? (33:35)
- Key Takeaways (38:31)
- Wrapping Up (40:25)
You can spend years building your little mobile app and launch it into the App Store knowing what will happen. Nothing, absolutely nothing. You know, nobody knows that it exists, right? And getting people to know it exists and getting people to use it is a whole different set of challenges.Matt Watson
With a lot of the pressure that’s come with different types of advertising or content, you need to be prepared for the fact that it might take a while for your ads even to be approved and go live on things like Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever. So create your campaigns early, create all of them and set a future. Set a future launch date on them, so they’re approved.Matt DeCoursey
You got to learn from what happens and be ready for the feedback and be able to make changes rapidly. And really, this is more kind of the first MVP soft launch, right? And then this perspective of like, okay, we think we built something that works. Let’s get it out there. Let’s get feedback.Matt Watson
Make your language personable. It’s important for your business to have a voice. And because that’s easier to be heard. But the one thing you don’t want to mess up on is general communication. So if you’re disappointing or letting people down for any reason, they usually understand as long as you tell them that you’re working on fixing it. But if you take four days to reply to a simple email about something being broken, they’ve already moved on.Matt DeCoursey
Dealing with a lot of customer calls can overwhelm your business. That’s why Chatdesk is here to help you. Growing startups use Chatdesk to deflect calls, increase sales, and scale up support through on-demand social media, email, and chat support specialists. And because you’re a Startup Hustle listener, you’ll get a limited free membership today. Signup now!
For more business services, check out Startup Hustle partners.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 0:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey, here, with Matt Watson. Hi, Matt.
Matt Watson 0:06
What’s going on, man?
Matt DeCoursey 0:08
Oh, I’ve been running back and forth to the gas station because I’m gonna launch some stuff today. And I just never realized that a rocket ship took this much fuel.
Matt Watson 0:23
I don’t know if they sell that kind of fuel to gas stations either, buddy.
Matt DeCoursey 0:26
I, unleaded, straggler.
Matt Watson 0:31
I have a feeling at some special fuel we need to talk about today.
Matt DeCoursey 0:36
Okay, well, I’m trying to launch a software product. And we said we wanted to take a rocket ship to the moon. So I mean, maybe I’m wrong, do I, you know, thing is I got this little one gallon can and that I think that’s what’s really slowing me down. So I’m burning about a quarter of a gallon of fuel getting my one gallon can back and forth to the rocket ship. And anyway, I heard you might be able to give me some advice on how to launch a software product. And wait, I’ve actually done that before myself. So I might know a couple of things too. And you know, speaking of knowing a couple of things, Matt, did you know that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by Chatdesk, if your business receives a high volume of phone calls, you can deflect over 10% of your calls to Facebook Messenger and save up to 80% on your support costs by using Chatdesk, they have a special offer for Startup Hustle listeners, it’s free for a limited time, learn more at Chatdesk.com. Go to Chatdesk.com forward slash Shift to see one of their new products. There are links in the show notes for that map. So either way, you’re gonna need to remember it, you just go down and click it.
Matt Watson 1:39
By the way, I hate talking to people on the phone. So I’m a huge fan.
Matt DeCoursey 1:42
I know. I know, you know, what I like about chatbots. Because it’s like, it’s like gig economy. So you hire people that are like real support people. They’re not just it’s not a bob, it’s not anything and they are looking for, you know, they kind of clock in and do some different stuff. I saw their whole platform, you get to like, approve everyone. And it’s honestly probably a good thing. If you go to launch a software product, like we’re talking about that you have some semblance of support, because that’s what we’ve talked about that in some of the past episodes. And here we are on episode 35 of 52. And it’s you know, this is this, these are funner. it more fun, as I always say that to talk about this more prior episodes, where we like to launch stuff, rockets, businesses, a whole lot of stuff, man. Yeah, yeah. So let’s get into it.
Matt Watson 2:36
Well, I think I think the first challenge here is the type of software you have, right? You know, if you’re launching a software product that is like a little mobile application is very different than if it’s an enterprise product that you’re selling b2b, versus something that’s just selling to consumers, right? Like, depending on the type of product, how you launch, it’s gonna be very different.
Matt DeCoursey 2:59
Yeah, and, you know, we’ve talked about that in some of the prior episodes in the series. And if you’re following along in sequence, then you probably got some, at least, okay, advice from us about sending it out. And, you know, figuring out who you’re marketing to, you should have already looked at who your target user was, created some personas around that, and hopefully done a little bit of testing throughout the MVP process to try to figure out who you’re aiming the rocket at. Now, as you mentioned, there is a wildly different type of launch that would occur, like you mentioned, like a mobile app or, as opposed to, like enterprise software. So and I think some companies really try to make a big splash when they make the launch. And then some of them that’s not a crucial ingredient, some of it, you can kind of you kind of tiptoe in, and we’ll talk a little bit of, but you know, let’s just talk about that. Now, Matt, that’s called a soft launch.
Matt Watson 3:53
Well, and doing an MVP, right? Like, hey, we built the MVP version. And to be honest, when I’m creating a new product, I’m just thankful if somebody will talk to me about it. Right, even more, thankful if they will just please try it, try it, and let them know what you think. You know, you can’t you can’t the day of launch be be thinking like, it’s the Field of Dreams and like if you build it, they will come like it doesn’t work that way. Right? You can you can spend years building your little mobile app and you launch into the App Store know what’s going to happen. Nothing, absolutely nothing. You know, nobody knows that exist, right? And getting people to know it exists and getting people to use it is a whole different set of challenges.
Matt DeCoursey 4:40
You know, and what you’re mentioning isn’t on our setlist, but it’s definitely worth stopping to talk about and I think it’s, it’s fair to say that you should set reasonable expectations for your product launch. I think that we want three people to use it this week. I mean, if that And you know what that might be a reasonable expectations for some things, it depends on what it is now. So you look at other things like, you know, we’ve participated in mixtape the Games app launch and like, so that was like, so that was a different kind of launch. Because with that there could be a viral component because mixtape and go to mix tape the game.com. And you can see what we’re talking about. It’s a really fun game, but you need other people to play it with. So in some cases, you’re what you’re trying to do in that regard, you’re going to get support from other people, and it can kind of spread out and go viral of sorts. Now, with Matt, you’ve been, you know, for the last decade involved in enterprise software. And that doesn’t have to necessarily make a big splash, you don’t have to have a whole bunch of people in there. Like with Nick’s tape, what I’m talking about is like, we have a community feature. And there the problem is, if there’s no one in there, then there’s no one playing and it’s just empty, and it’s you there’s nothing to keep populated. And that’s a that’s a different thing. It’s like if well, you play chess or something like that, if there’s no one on the other side of it, then it’s not. It’s like,
Matt Watson 6:06
The best example is creating a dating website, right? If it’s got nothing out, ladies or guys, and it like it’s not gonna work very well.
Matt DeCoursey 6:12
Well, unless it’s an app that is only for one of the nationalized just on dudes or checks. Yeah. And then that could be really good.
Matt Watson 6:19
You know, that’s the thing is anything that’s like a marketplace or takes like two sides, you’ve got to have both right. And that’s a whole different set of challenges for launching a product like that.
Matt DeCoursey 6:30
Well, we should talk about that for a second too, because you know how I feel about that. And I’ve learned I have developed quite a bit of expertise on this over the last 15 years. So if your app or product kind of goes mentioned with Nick’s tape, it’s Matt mentioned, the term marketplace. And marketplace is anything that relies on buyers and sellers, this is talking about eBay. So if you go to eBay, you know, eBay at some point launched and there was nobody selling anything in there, which meant if they drove buyers, then they would walk in and then walk right back out. And it’s the same. And it’s the same feeling when it comes to if there are no buyers than sellers don’t really care about going in there.
Matt Watson 7:08
And I when I list my time to put something for sale on Ebay, if nobody is going to look at it.
Matt DeCoursey 7:14
Right. So if you’re planning to launch on the software products, and it’s and it’s it has some marketplace component like it relies on on that on two different personas. So we talked about personas before so buyer or seller, your launch is going to flop if you drive a bunch of buyers, and then there’s no seller. So when you lay it’s more important at launch to have the sellers pre positioned in there, and they’re ready, they’re waiting for the doors on the store to swing open at 10am. It’s like you want to build up the hype in a way that it’s kind of like the videos on black. What is it Black Friday, or? What? Yeah, Black Friday, when people like get trampled at Walmart, trying to get the best deal on a TiVo.
Matt Watson 7:57
We’ve got another really great example of this one of our former guests from bungee, right. Yes, so bungee is a mobile app that you use. And I used it just recently, I bought some furniture at a furniture store and they wanted $200 to deliver the shit. I’m like, Nope, I can use bungee and it’s like 40. But bungee has to have drivers. So you push the button in your phone and a guy with a truck shows up and move something for you. Right? But you got to have guys with trucks. And you’ve got to have people pushing the button. It’s a marketplace, right? You have both sides. And those types of software products. Just think about like Uber, right gonna have drivers and you gotta be able to want to drive. Those are difficult and the only way to usually do that is kind of regional. Right? You got to have a push kind of city by city and that’s what Bungie did. You know, they have went city by city, trying to build up those relationships and getting those cities launched and then eventually they get going enough that the marketplace and kind of capitalism takes hold, right and the market kind of manages itself
Matt DeCoursey 8:55
but assuredly like capitalism. By the way, bu and gi Bungie it’s it’s super helpful, man like you, sometimes you just need a friend with a truck. And that’s like actually, one of their slogans Dan Jackson was one of he is, at this point, almost like OG status for Startup Hustle, because I think he was a single digit episode number very early, it was maybe in the front in the first time, we should go back and send all of those people like a golden shoe or something. But just one not most,
Matt Watson 9:33
you know, back to what we’re talking about. A lot of this just depends on the type of product that you have. Right. And there’s definitely a section of products that like that, just like if you’re trying to sell cars online, you know, you’ve got to have buyers and sellers or if it’s eBay or bungee you know, these types of things where you’ve got to have people on both sides makes it harder to launch those kinds of products.
Matt DeCoursey 9:51
Now also with a soft launch, that’s kind of like you know, the kind of like your rehearsal dinner at your her wedding. You know, it’s like, that’s where you want to walk down the line, you want to be like, hey, if this happens, this happens, this happens, you want to make sure that like, your set is going to work. Because that’s one way to ruin a launch is with everything else. Yeah. And then, you know, the world of technology is a lot more adept for this. But you know, 1015 years ago, the real question was, is like, would you overload your server? Yeah. But that’s part of that, you know, that, you know,
Matt Watson 10:30
these days, yeah, unless, unless you’re, you know, Instagram or somebody who goes from nothing to like billion users in six months, then yeah, you might have some problems. But for most of us, you have a little app, and we build it, and we think everybody’s gonna come, but nobody does. It’s not a problem, usually.
Matt DeCoursey 10:49
So some of the stuff too, and I’m gonna help you all avoid some heartache. As you know, with a lot of the pressure that’s come with different types of advertising or the content that it’s promoting and all of it, you need to be prepared for the fact that it might take a while for your ads to even be approved and go live on things like Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever. So create your campaigns early created up all of them and set a future, set a future launch date on them, so they’re approved. You know, I experienced a little of that when we did some of our Startup Hustle TV videos, you know, start up, go to YouTube and type in Startup Hustle, and you can see what I’m talking about. But you know, some of those, I had a couple. So YouTube will throttle you and meaning like if they will, the AI if there are certain keys and triggers. So one of the things on one of the first episodes is one of our cast members is from the KC hemp company. And I had the word hemp in a tag, like a hidden tag that I couldn’t see in YouTube throttle all of our ads, because they said we were purveyors of selling weed, which we weren’t. So you know, but some of that, but it really slow, it was really frustrating, because you’re sitting there and they’re telling you, you can’t place ads and whole bunch of stuff. So that’s what a soft launch is, for a soft launch is also for things like making sure your support works. And that’s, you know, that’s what will give chat desk a shout out or whatever it is that you’re using. And you know, that stuff matters. And, and you know, all of it, all of it makes sure your stuff works, because there’s nothing more frustrating or humiliating than not having the key to the front door at the moment that you’re supposed to open for your grand opening. And it happens. It happens, man. Yeah.
Matt Watson 12:42
What do you think about these sites or products that launch and they do an exclusive launch? Like, allow a few people to do it, and they can only invite one friend and sorry. You don’t know anything about you?
Matt DeCoursey 12:58
So that that can be brilliant. And then it can also be like What the fuck? So? Demand almost. Yeah, so well one of the things that it was kind of funny because I know you like your Tik Tok videos, but I made one so bad. You’re you’re probably the more notable version of that was clubhouse. Yeah. And it came out like a year ago, and you had to have an invite to get in, and it got some hype, and everyone’s like, so I actually made a Tik Tok video. I was like, Man, can I just get a clubhouse invite? I swear I’ll pay you back next week. I just need one. Just need one people like begging like crackheads for a clubhouse invite.
Matt Watson 13:33
And then everybody was firing. They’re like, this is stupid. But they got there. Yeah, some
Matt DeCoursey 13:37
of it. And then they didn’t have an Android version. I invited you when they didn’t have an Android version. And they wouldn’t let me use my invite on someone else. It’s kind of funny, because that I thought that that was brilliant. And it created a lot of hype. Yeah. And then they kind of overshot that, because it got to the point where they weren’t letting people in fast enough. And some people get resentful of that. I think that exclusivity is an amazing thing when it comes to hype, sales and marketing, but you have to have something that people care about exclusivity on like, you know, I like sneakers, you like sneakers, it’s gotta be something limited. So both of us have worked in the live ticketing industry. So that’s like a pre sale, you know, and there’s a limited amount of inventory in there. And that’s why you go into it early. And I’m all for stuff like that, especially if it makes people buy and get work some of the bugs, but at the same time, sometimes that stuff can create even more pressure on your system. You know, like if you’re going to send someone like an invite only code or whatever, and that’s not something you’re used to doing. should do a soft opening. should do a soft opening, Matt. All right, so now we’re here cuz the doors are swinging open on Black Friday, and everyone’s rushing in. Is your team ready? Are you ready? Are you paying attention?
Matt Watson 14:59
Matt DeCoursey 14:59
No Oh, yeah, are you but already? I’m ready. Tell me why. Tell me how you’re just saying you’re ready. Are you really ready?
Matt Watson 15:07
I’ve got a gallon of gasoline
Matt DeCoursey 15:10
to drive 200 miles with you have a Tesla, though you drive a Tesla. So why do you you’re bringing it from the rocket ship. Thank you. Thank you so and you’re gonna cut down and do the math because I’m not it will drive your Tesla. And I’ll save that quarter of a gallon that I’m losing on the trip back and forth with the gallon. So you do the math, and I bring
Matt Watson 15:32
like 100 Smart feet gallon drums for you? I don’t
Matt DeCoursey 15:37
know, I don’t think they probably transport hazardous or flammable, things like that. But we’ll ask Ben, you never know, you never know. But so when we talk about are you ready? This is back to the aisle. By the way, man, I really encourage a soft launch. Even if it’s facially even, it’s not even real people like act, you need to experience it, like put yourself in the buyer seat and go test all of your stuff, like be the user. And like we do that with our own software, all the different stuff we do all the time. Like we literally employ people at Full Scale that will do that for you all day, every day. And that’s really important. But that’s part of like that communications plan like sales, like just who are we tracking sales? Do we need to track sales? Are we not able to make sales because we’re not doing something? Presentations, website updates, maybe press releases, you got to have all of that stuff ready. And if you don’t have it ready before the day of the launch, then you’re just not prepared.
Matt Watson 16:35
Well, and so at Netro, we just launched a new version of prefix and prefix was a free tool that we had it at stack phi. And we just launched a new version of it a new paid version of it. And you know, we did a soft launch, right? We told our existing customers and stuff like that, how to download it, get feedback from them find out if they like it, they don’t like it, will they pay for it? You know, all that kind of stuff, working out the bugs, working out the kinks before we spend a bunch of money on advertising or, you know, emailing or 100,000 people in our email database, right? It’s like doing that soft launch working out the kinks. Because if one person has a problem with something, you know, we want to we want to solve that before we get like 100 customers complaining about the same problem later. So it’s good to kind of crawl, walk run a little bit when you’re launching a new software product, unless you’re lucky and you launch a product and it works absolutely perfectly the first time. And if that’s the case, you are
Matt DeCoursey 17:30
which might have been the first time that that happened in the history of
Matt Watson 17:33
our a purple squirrel.
Matt DeCoursey 17:37
It’s an interesting visual. Yeah. So yeah. So all right, we talked about the launch. And I’ve had, I’ve talked to people before, and they’re like, Yeah, I just don’t know if I really want to release it. And I’m like, release a beta do a song. Yeah, that’s
Matt Watson 17:50
a whole nother problem. They’re like, I don’t know.
Matt DeCoursey 17:53
No one knows, no one even knows you exist yet.
Matt Watson 17:57
Like that’s, that’s a really big problem, actually, we need to talk about because people like me who are software developers, we’re perfectly content to, like, hide in our mom’s basement and write code all day. And we don’t actually care about telling anybody about what we built or selling it. We just want to keep writing code. Like we’re just like the crazy mad scientist in the lab. And at some point in time, you got to ship something. And that’s a problem. And I guarantee you, there are people listening to this podcast right now. They’re like, Oh, yeah, that’s me that you need to build an MVP. You need to package it up, have a deadline, and sell some shit ship something, right? Like, that’s a whole nother set of problems.
Matt DeCoursey 18:39
No, I agree. And then you have people like me that are also going to be like, Hey, can we hurry the fuck up and launch this? Because I need to sell something. That’s not always a good thing, though. Because don’t