“Launching a Product” — Large versus Small Company

When announcing a product has “Launched”, what do companies really mean? Let’s look at the difference between the Large and Small Business “Product Launch”

Large Company “Launch”

Large firms often have excess people they can throw at a product, leftover budget they need to spend, and people that need to look busy. Typically, a large company engages in a product cycle such as below:

  • Product Concept — product manager, marketing person, operations person, financial person, and operational ‘fulfillment’ person formalize a product concept. This group receives budget approval due to lofty end user projections.
  • Product Ideation — hire a design firm to construct the product UX and UI.
  • Product Development — bring along internal development resources or hire an outside firm to develop the wireframes already created.
  • Run into Development Issues — something in the product design simply will not work technologically, will take too much time, or the internal technical stack cannot support the desired function.
  • CO galore — the dreaded “Change Order” rears its head, where $$ is spent on new UI/UX design and new development pathways.
  • A Delayed Product Launch — the CO causes a delayed product launch, explained by the product team (to management) as caused by the external development group.
  • Budget Constraints — a -Re-Org causes the product financing to become an issue.
  • Skeleton Product — the product group agrees to cut down on product features to save $$ and “launch” a product.
  • The Feature Set Lapse — the removed feature set are most likely those that would drive customer usage and success.
  • The Frankenstein Launch — a ‘launchable’ product is finally ready, yet the customer value proposition is minimal due to the featureset strip.
  • The Launch -a press release goes out, congratulations happen, a pat on the back.
  • The Stagnation — since the product “launched”, all the resources have now moved on to other projects. The product sits around and is never iterated, fixed, or made to be valuable.
  • The Budget Cut— Due to lack of end user interest, the budget is cut and the product no longer is supported.

So many large companies often believe a Launch is defined by finishing the initial development, reporting to management that the product is ‘live’, and adding another notch on their bed for having launched a new service on time.

Now, let’s compare the Large Company product “Launch” with the Start-Up or Small Company:

Small Company “Launch”

  • Founder comes up with an Idea — 1 or more folks believe they have “found” the next big thing.
  • The Product Development Starts — without going into deep UI or UX, the product development starts with either an internal technical founder or an outsourced firm.
  • The StrawMan — a product is built of which the founders now see the flaws and ‘ratholes’ that users would run into.
  • The Fix — Feature sets and product issues become fixed.
  • Talking to Customers — the team now tests the product with friends and family for feedback.
  • Iterate — After feedback, its time to iterate again.
  • Talking to Customers — the team now tests the product with friends and family for feedback.
  • Iterate — After feedback, its time to iterate again.
  • Talking to…
  • Iterate…

So fundamentally, what causes such a difference? In my experience, its the below:

  1. ) Love What you’re Doing — loving what you do makes it passionate
  2. ) Interest in Changing the World, not Working the System — not ‘just working for a paycheck’ makes it passionate
  3. ) Limited Resources — without resources to waste, every little bit matters
  4. ) Experience in the Space — knowing where NOT to go

Now, such a difference between the Large Company and Start-Up does not always occur. Plenty of large companies are great at product while numerous Start-Up businesses are simultaneously terrible at iterating.

What’s your experience and thoughts on the differences between Large and Small companies when they ‘Product Launch’?