Getting Ready to Launch
(and why we didn't do it a year ago)
by Adi Hillel
Here’s the thing. I’m a CEO, and I am afraid of launching. When I say I’m afraid I mean I’m totally freaking out! Every instinct in my body is telling me: “PAUSE GIRL! Don’t be impatient and screw it all up. Don’t settle for less than the very best; the world will wait, as it always has, until everything is in THE RIGHT PLACE”.
But this time, my instincts got it all wrong.
I come from the field of writing. As a writer, I’m used to crafting my texts, endlessly. I’m a big believer in drafts, and over the years I’ve become addicted to rewriting; over and over again, until it’s perfect. But guess what? it never is. I became a subject of my own perfectionism. Nothing seemed good enough to publish or release. I couldn't even give my best friends and colleagues a chance to read my stuff; I was too afraid of criticism and terrified of rejection. So the easy way was to keep writing, and bury my poems/short stories/screenplays deep inside the drawer. But the worst thing was the minute I stopped writing. Nothing was good enough, even for my own eyes. I started suffering from chronic procrastination. I was trapped.
Two years ago, my two closest friends and I came up with an idea that was meant to help us get back on track and write again. We all had the same symptoms, and we were eager to find a solution. We decided to build it ourselves. These were the first days of Hubitus. We didn't know what we were doing, but we were determined to find out. Soon enough, we learned that we are not alone; that there are many others like us, who wish to get their creative juices flowing, but haven't yet found the right path to optimize their efforts and maximize their strengths. We suddenly understood that our personal adventure and potential product could:
a) provide value to others.
And so we entered the world of entrepreneurship, almost by mistake. We built a start-up.
Entering this unknown land was SHOCKING. It literally turned my world upside down. At the age of 34 I finally understood: it’s all about the users (and NOT about me). For an “artistic soul”, who was captured in the well-known narrative of the starving artist, this concept was almost beyond reach. It took me some time, but I finally got it! The most important objective in the course of any entrepreneur’s journey is to reach product/market fit.
to DO it as fast as possible.
BUT, it’s never that easy. Yes, I changed my whole logical perspective, but emotionally, I hadn't learned how to LET GO. So not only were we three co-founders, struggling to bootstrap for as long as we can, now we had to face our inner voices, who kept contradicting everything I've just said.
It basically sounds something like this:
Me: We need to launch.
Ella: We MUST launch.
Nami: We definitely should launch.
Me: We just need to get this feature right… it looks disastrous. And there’s a bug just there. I’m like pressing this button, and nothing appears.
Ella: Can’t we live without it?
Me: No! I’d rather die!
Now, multiply this conversation by two product meetings a week for about one year, and you’ll end up conducting the following debate with yourself, every night when you lay in your bed.
Me: We should launch. We should have done it months ago.
Me 2: You’re a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y right dear.
Me: Yeah, I know.
Me 2: But… if we've waited this long, another month won’t make any difference.
Me: Yes it will!
Me 2: No it won’t!
Me: Yes it will!
Me 2: No it won’t!
Me: Ok. One month.
Me 2: Let’s make it two. Good night.
But it wasn't until I listened to my favorite podcast “Hashavua” (The Week), an Israeli podcast in Hebrew about start-ups by Eytan Levit & David Katz, that it finally hit me. The title of that particular episode was “shipping”, and all they did was repeat this malicious word again and again and again. Ship it. Ship it. Ship it. Shipitshiptitshiptit. God! All I wanted was to crawl under my bus seat and disappear forever. I’m not a sailor. I don’t know how to ship things! let alone my goddamn start-up! But it seemed as if they were talking to ME, forcing ME to take a good look in the mirror and say: get a grip sister, and ship the f**king thing!
Two days later, my partners and I met in Ella’s living room. There was coffee, but no milk. Nami was in the middle of a 48 hour fast (don’t ask. I didn't) and was pale and restless. We talked a lot, and after three hours we all agreed that it’s just like having a baby — you’ll never find the right time to do it. Or to be more accurate, the right time is presumably, NOW.
So, we’re about to launch a half-baked product in THREE DAYS time.
Most of the features we planned on don’t exist yet. We won’t have the writing clock, or the coffee break. No profiles, no filter options, no settings. Only one feature, which is the core of our product — silent live streaming of the writers opposite you.
To tell you the truth, I’m happy about it. Focusing on our riskiest assumption will help us come to a quick validation or refutation of our solution, so we can see if we indeed “hit the spot”.
Can the virtual presence of the ‘other’ affect your productivity for the better? we’re about to find out.
I’m scared. It feels like I have a thin metal plate shoved between my chest and my waist. I think it’s called tension. I’m trying to get over my childish inner voice that is never satisfied. I wanted to better prepare for this launch; to have my computer files organised, my house clean and my personal life in order. Up till now I kept moving towards an unreachable horizon which I mistakenly called LAUNCH. I've decided to strip this word from all its meaning, and I’m left with a simple URL, which in three days can potentially be double-clicked by anyone in this world.
I have never felt this way before.