For the majority of startups, monetizing your startup from day 1 is a great idea: it validates your product, confirms that it has long-term potential and proves to investors that the product can be successful. That, however, has been discussed extensively before. What so many startups forget however, is that before selling a product to the first user, there are a few licenses you need to give away first.
The First License: If you’re releasing a consumer product or service, there is one person who should always test your product before launch: your mother. Yes, that smiling, typically technologically-illiterate woman in your life who cooked you dinner in your childhood, and now, should play a crucial role in launching your product. Any consumer-focused product launching today needs to be exceptionally user-friendly and easy to understand – quite often a mother is a great person to test that on. Now obviously that is a little simplified, but it’s important to realize that your startup needs to employ some non-technical beta testers. All too often, developers put their product through a beta-testing period, and who do they send licenses to? Their fellow developers. While this is great in terms of bug-fixing and the like, developers will often look at a product through the same technical eye that founders will, and that can mean you miss out on some important problems. Getting non-technical users to try out your product before launch means that you can make any UI adjustments necessary, and you can be sure your initial paying users will be all the more happy because of it.
The Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth & Sixth License: The second crucial step in launching any product is media exposure. The next five licenses before launch should go immediately to online technology news publications, and that doesn’t mean sending an email saying ‘Check out my product’s website here if you want to try it out, let me know and I’ll send you a license‘. That just adds an unnecessary step in getting your product media attention, and raises the threshold over which journalists must cross before writing about the startup. Furthermore, it means that your website is the single determining factor in whether or not your product will find the attention it deserves: and unless your launch page is tantalizingly great, that might not be a good thing. Instead, send a license key and download link for your product with the very first email you send to journalists: it means they can test your product simply and easily, and greatly increases the chance that they will write about your startup.
Of course, these steps don’t just apply to startups looking to earn revenue from the first user, but to every product launch. Having an impeccable user interface and finding media attention are (debatably) the two most important steps in launching a startup, so make sure you do them right.