Business Strategies

When to Launch a Product

Written by Ankur Hazarika for Gaebler Ventures

Mega companies can afford to delay product launches and release endless streams of beta editions. They have deep pockets and can take the punch until they perfect the product. Ideally, a start-up too would wish to perfect its product until they are assured that it can sweep the market off its feet. But there is an implicit cost associated with delay: missed market opportunity.

Start-ups face huge market competition on already established ideas, so an innovative product sets a business apart.

But such products likely take more than one trial-run to perfect; they must endure a stream of re-designs and beta trials. Attempting to be a product perfectionist before launching the product, however, could prove to be a death trap for an entrepreneur.

Time spent achieving perfection may cost him the market opportunity, thus making his product obsolete.

An astute entrepreneur should know how to distinguish a 'perfect product' from a 'saleable product'. There is a price at which the bulk of customers are willing to buy a product; if this price suits you, your product is 'saleable.'

Even customers do not expect a flawless new concept or design. Consider some of the most famous companies that have released new products to the market. Most of them had bugs, inefficiencies and user inconveniences. Over time, the consumer feedback led to product perfection.

Often, individuals even get accustomed to some product features that were initially viewed as flaws. For example, many customers originally complained about the loud click of the Zippo lighter; now the Zippo is known by its characteristic click. What may scream 'flaw' to you, may in reality mean 'distinction' in the marketplace.

Of course you still want to deliver a good product to the market, however. Make a compromise when it comes to striving for 'the best possible,' and delaying a product launch.

Here are two pointers to consider when deciding the right time to launch your product:

1. Make an estimate of the time span for when the market opportunity will last.

You should naturally be surveying the market for sales channels and a potential customer base. While doing so, try to get information about the period of time for which your product will still be marketable. Talking to individuals in your related industry will give you a starting point.

2. Identify possible competitors for your product.

Get some tech-savvy partner to do a 'technology scanning,' or a study of the available technologies related to your product. In the event that some similar technology or product is in the works, you must be alerted to the necessary launch of your own product.

Ankur Hazarika is currently studying at the School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology (SJMSOM, IIT B), in Mumbai, India. He has been closely associated with a host of entrepreneurship networks like NEN, TiE and BarCamp, and has worked with the Indian business incubator, Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE).

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