Going Stealth

Vic Sithasanan
Apr 27, 2020 · 3 min read

There are two camps.

Those that believe that you should share your project idea early on, collect feedback and mould your idea as you go along. The second, and the one I subscribe to, is to build a project with minimal, but qualified feedback, and largely work in stealth mode till you’re ready to share.

I’m not sure exactly why I like the stealth approach, it could be because I love spy stories. I suspect it could also be because I was taught by my previous bosses that having a healthy paranoia was a competitive advantage in business.

.. having a healthy paranoia is a competitive advantage ..

But I think the most important reason is that there’s just less noise. When it comes to feedback, quality is better than quantity. A lot of opinions and suggestions can quickly derail your project if you aren’t filtering.

In order to work in stealth mode, you need to have a couple of things going for you.

First, you need to believe that what you’re working on has value — without the explicit and frequent validation of external peers. Draw upon your own experience and be aligned with your partners or senior managers when you make that assessment. And stay firm.

And since external feedback will be minimal, you need to have a good system of testing whether an idea has value throughout the development process. If your project can be split to smaller modules, I would suggest testing them out independently and proving that they work with the target audience, and fixing problem areas and retesting. This can be quite intense as you try to progress your build and yet pause to fix issues on the modules you’re testing. However, understanding points of failure early on can be extremely valuable.

.. understanding points of failure early on can be extremely valuable ..

This time also gives you the opportunity to learn from similar projects around the world, and learn from the mistakes of others, and adapt what works and what doesn’t. Use competitor products, contact their support team if you have issues and read reviews. It can be frustrating if someone rolls out an idea or feature before you, but learning from their mistakes can ensure you have a better product. Think of the MP3 players before the iPod. Better experiences always trump.

With so much pent up anxiety and nerves, the launch can be a very stressful event to plan. Usually at this point, there’s quite a lot riding on it. So if you can afford it, I would suggest hiring an external agency or team to help. Being so close to the product can cloud your judgement on what’s best for the launch. You may want to be featured on prime time news, but what you want and what can happen may be miles apart. So get a reliable voice in the discussion early on. And if you can, start planning for the launch a couple of months prior — it’s always good to have a hard milestone and something to corral the team around.

.. it’s always good to have a hard milestone..

Hope these pointers help you if you’re inclined to go dark. Best of luck and do tell us about your project when the time is right.

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At HYPERLAB, we’re just about to launch what we’ve been working on for the last few months. Stay tuned.

This article was first published on my LinkedIn on October 25, 2016.



Articles and analysis of digital experience, design and data. Vic Sithasanan is an entrepreneur based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Vic Sithasanan

Written by

Co-founder of Hyperlab, one of Asia’s most awarded AI startups. Father of two, car nut and gadget geek.


Articles and analysis of digital experience, design and data. Vic Sithasanan is an entrepreneur based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.