Launching Your Startup: 4KTA

Naveen Bisht
Naveen Bisht
Board Member and Chair, 
TiE Silicon Valley
Naveen Bisht is a serial entrepreneur and Board Member, Chair – Pograms, The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE ) and member of TiE Angels Steering Committee, based in Silicon Valley, California.

The time has come for you to launch your start-up after months of hard work. Your product or your website services have been tested with early adopters. They seem quite happy and have given you feedback that has been incorporated into the product. You can’t wait to launch, make a big splash and hope that customers will flock like bees to honey to get their hands on your product or sign up for your web service. It’s every entrepreneur’s dream for their startup to take off and grow rapidly like Pinterest has grown with more than 12 million users and is rapidly growing every day, Photo App sharing Instagram with 27 million users and growing, OMGPOP’s Draw Something with 35 million downloads and 15 million daily users, which is now part of Zynga. Here are my four key take away (4KTA) points on this topic based on my experiences.

1. Launch Plan – Like anything else, it all begins with a plan. A plan to come out of stealth mode and tell the world about your company, your technology and solution, how it’s already successfully solving real pain points and being used by select and happy customers. Standard product launch plans can be obtained from any basic marketing book and articles. In your case, however, it's not only a product launch but also, a launch of your company. You should already have a VP or Director of Product marketing on your team to lead and manage the launch plan. He should have domain expertise and has been through this process previously in other startups. If you are a VC funded company, your investors may have already asked you to have one on your team. Having an experienced marketing person on your team already knows what needs to be done. It's very different when launching a startup and its product compared to someone launching a product for a well known company like Google or Cisco. They have resources, known brand, capital and relationships with analysts, media, and blogger community. In your scenario, this person needs to be highly creative, has relationships with media and analysts and can do it with little amount of capital and resources.

2. Launch Team – Your launch team will consist of your vice president of marketing, product manager, market communications and public relations firm (PR), chief technology officer (CTO) and chief executive officer (CEO). In many startups, marketing person is also the product manager and leads the launch process. The role of CTO during launch is to lend credibility to company’s technology claims with his past technical accomplishments, if any, his role as key architect and developer of your breakthrough technology. The analysts prefer to learn and validate about your technology from your CTO. Similarly, CEO’s role is to lend credibility to overall company with his past role either as CEO of startups or a key executive in the industry. The marketing team with PR firm reaches out to media, analysts such as Gartner Group, Dataquest, and Forrester Group, industry pundits, bloggers, and industry magazines in your market segment and articulates company’s messaging and competitive positioning combined with a compelling value proposition.
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