Product Launches – The Most Common Mistakes We See

Michael Frederick
28 Apr 2022

Every early-stage startup has a unique set of constraints it must deal with and trade-offs that must be made along the way to launch its product into the market. From product development, to legal, to go-to-market strategy, even the most seasoned startup founder can make potentially business-crushing missteps. Luckily, there are some common product development ones that are easily avoidable if you just know what to watch for.

I’ve seen it time and time again. First, for years when I led Product for Gust Launch and was on the ground talking to startup founders regularly. Now, as CEO and Founder of Flatirons Development where we help early-stage founders bring their products to market through product development work and design. From first-time founders to founders on their tenth company, here are the most common mistakes I see in the MVP development and launch process, and how I would recommend avoiding them (as someone who has the benefit of objective hindsight many times over):

Not capturing metrics (or not capturing enough metrics).

For any consumer-facing product, analytics are imperative. Once you launch, there are so many questions you will be asking yourself, regardless of your immediate success. If users are flocking to your product, you will want to know what you are doing right so you can amplify those efforts. If no one is buying, you will want to dig in and analyze the user journey to figure out why and where to prioritize efforts. You do not want to find yourself in a situation post-launch where you aren’t able to understand the user journey once people arrive on your website. You will want to be able to easily analyze funnels and drop off points with a tool like MixPanel. You will want a tool like Intercom that can connect you directly with customers and allow you to re-engage them based on where they dropped off in your product. You will want a tool like Inspectlet or HotJar that allows you to see exactly what a user was doing when they reach out to you and say “the website doesn’t work for me.” You will want a tool like Google Analytics that, amongst many other things, can tell you what devices and browsers people are using so you can prioritize browsers and screen sizes.

Underestimating the impact of design.

Unfortunately, we see this all the time. Founders under prioritize design and over prioritize development because they want more features and are in a rush to get an MVP out. They see design as an added expense that they can cut due to limited funding. Please listen to me carefully: this will almost always end up costing you more money and time in the long run. Once the product is released and user feedback starts coming in that the application is confusing, or worse, unusable, the UX/UI debt that has accumulated is incredibly expensive to unwind and redo versus if you had included design in the conversation upfront.

Taking too long to get user feedback.

You should never release a product to the public before getting at least a few rounds of user feedback – ideally during multiple phases of the product development process. I actually attended a startup meet up recently where a person presented a pitch deck on an entire product that was already built. They had never done any usability or user testing. They had no beta users, and were ready to release to the public. I pushed hard for them to consider getting user feedback before a wide release, but I don’t think the founder realized the shock they were in for when they started that process. Test early, and don’t go into the development phase until you do.

Not having a plan for traction ahead of time.

Unfortunately, the product that “sells itself” is few and far between. In fact, product launches can be extremely deflating for founders that are too invested in their idea to take a step back and look at their avenues for traction. Spend some time thinking through your go to market strategy. Who are your potential customers? Why would they be interested in your product? What problem are you solving for them? Who is your competition? What is an appropriate price point? Explore different business models. A lot goes into getting your product into the hands of users, and many founders are surprised with how many of those “marketing/sales/business development” decisions overlap with product development itself. Don’t wait until your product is ready to launch to start having these conversations.

These are easily-avoidable but unfortunately very common mistakes we see all the time with startup founders. We would love to hear your feedback on the mistakes you have seen. Success stories are great, but mistakes and failures are a tremendous source of learning for all of us.

About Flatirons Development

We are a team of highly experienced product designers, software engineers, product managers, and entrepreneurs. We love to work on new and challenging projects that require thinking outside of the box. Let’s work together.

Gust Launch will set you up with established standards and best practices to avoiding excessive legal rework.

Gust Launch will set you up with established standards and best practices to avoiding excessive legal rework.

This article is intended for informational purposes only, and doesn't constitute tax, accounting, or legal advice. Everyone's situation is different! For advice in light of your unique circumstances, consult a tax advisor, accountant, or lawyer.