The Social Challenge of Releasing Early

Posted on November 19, 2010. Filed under: startups, venture capital | Tags: , , |

A decision Doug and I made at the onset of our company was to work and build in public.  Doug was lucky enough to participate in Y-Combinator and many of the ideals, this included, that we embody as a team stem from that influence.  The natural tendency when building consumer facing products is to keep your product under wraps until it is “ready” for prime time.  We come from a school where as soon as something is functional, we push it live, and begin to collect data as we iterate and improve.  From an execution standpoint, this methodology has and continues to prove effective.  From a social standpoint, however, it can be challenging.

The challenge is as follows: friends and family who are engaged and interested in your progress can only see what is visible to the public.  They don’t understand that your product is literally a public construction zone, and that you know your UX isn’t compelling or “finished” yet.  It has been an ongoing process for me to try to explain to my dad, for example, what it means to build a data layer on top of all the objects in a local environment.  Or to help my ex-girlfriend from college understand how real estate is related to  Or to tell the litany of early and supportive users why it is that we haven’t given them something more to do on the site than what’s available today.

What I’m realizing is that if you are trying to execute on a plan that calls for Minimum Viable Product pushes with ongoing iteration and progressive layering in of feature sets and enhanced UX, you need to have strong resolve not to sweat the social challenges of this style.  My partner Ben Lerer recently had a great observation about his own and many of our collective experiences as founders.  He said, “Listen, at the end of the day, there is not a single person on earth that is gong to fully understand the vision in your head.  Your team, your investors, your family, consumers, nobody can see the future of your company and product as clearly as you.  That’s okay, your job is to keep communicating and clarifying it as best you can and keep executing toward what you see in your head.”  I thought these were pretty insightful words and have shared them with a number of my peers.

Anyway, in an effort to help communicate the bigger picture for Hyperpublic we just threw up V1 of an about page.  Notice that it isn’t styled, isn’t succinct, and is definitely a work in progress.  True to form, we thought why not push early, get feedback, and iterate.


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[…] Bite November 22, 2010 “Listen, at the end of the day, there is not a single person on earth that is gong to fully un… – Ben Lerer (Via Jordan […]

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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