I have decided to blog in real time, my experiences of launching and releasing a product onto the market. What I mean by that is I will be writing this series of blogs as I go and as I experience new things. This is risky because the idea might be dead next week. On the other hand if I write this after the event, I will be able to polish the experience and not be able to control my honesty.
Why am I doing this?
Well there are tonnes of books on how to launch a product and how to suceed with your new idea. There are incubators and accelerators but really, what I have discovered, and maybe I’m late to the party, but the shock for me was, *no one knows*. What I mean is you can read all the books you want, but at the end of the day, all that you have gained is the hindsight of others after the event. In most cases this misses out the actual step by step low level detail. It’s only when you decide to take on the Herculean task yourself do you realise that every idea is different everyone’s journey is different and there is no where near an instruction manual.
There are books to cover every element of this and you can take every mantra and repeat it to yourself day and night and still not know what to do next. The more I try, the more I read, the more I think ‘hmmm maybe there is a book in this’. But that would be going against what I feel I have realised. There isn’t a book that will help you answer those questions.
What I have realised and again, maybe I’m slow, but launching a product or starting a business is about the people and not the product. I could make this first entry a list of the case studies that have moulded my thinking, but that would be waffling so I will dot them throughout the series.
So what am I building?
I have built WingIt. WingIt is a free file sharing application that is meant to make file sharing as simple as sending a WhatsApp message. It’s also end to end encrypted. This isn’t the pitch, this is just ‘what it is’. WingIt sits on your devices, and when you want to send a friend or colleague a file of any type, you drag the file onto your contact and ping! They receive it on their device where ever they are. Simple as can be. Importantly for me, WingIt offers security that means only you and the recipient can see the content of the files shared. I mean really only the two of you. There is no way I, a law enforcement agency, corporate spies, or significant others could see what you are sharing. Unless obviously, like reading your whatsApp, they steal your device and you have left it unlocked, but that’s outside of my control really……
I’ll explain later my thinking behind the product, but for now its worth knowing where I am with it.
I have built WingIt to the point where I was happy to share it with the technical community to get initial feedback. It works smoothly, and in my opinion really is easy to use. However I do remember one important quote from Reid Hoffman,
“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”
As I say, you can spend your life reading books before launching, and all it will probably do is result in you launching too late. (I will come back to what ‘launching’ is later). So with Hoffman’s words in the back of my mind, I feel I launched too late. That is one of the reasons I am writing this now.
I first wrote WingIt a year ago. Yes a year ago. It sat dormant on my laptop for the best part of a year before I started to feel guilty that I hadn’t done something with it. About a month or so ago then I put it on Github — the platform for sharing code with others. I wrote one comment on the forum there mentioning it and thought that would be that. It was the responses that made me think of Hoffman again and how I had ‘launched too late’.
Because WingIt is an app that to the technical world is about privacy and security I was fearful of the absolute flaming I may get if I claimed “secure and private file sharing” before I was absolutely convinced I had got that aspect of it right. So I didn’t publish it. But when I did, the comments that started to trickle in were positive, friendly and supportive. Which is where I am now. I see this is a massive opportunity to learn so many things that if I had just published when I made it, I would be a year ahead of myself. No regrets. I’m learning now.
I don’t want to let each one of these get too long, so in the next one I walk through in detail the steps I have taken to get to here. I am publishing both at the same time however. Link to Part 1 here.