Three Lessons I Learnt From Our Beta Launch

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As Startup Founders, we all hope that one day we get to share our product or idea with the world. For me that day came a little over two weeks ago when we released our beta for Task Pigeon.

It can be a scary prospect to share something that you are so heavily invested in with the public. Not only financially, but mentally and emotionally as well.

And to be honest I didn’t know what to expect.

In the lead up to our beta I had amassed a pre-launch list of around 150 people. How many would sign up? Could I even get 10 or 15 people to try out Task Pigeon? I just didn’t know.

It can be a scary prospect to share something that you are so heavily invested in with the public. Not only financially, but mentally and emotionally as well

Luckily, the effort that I have put into growing my network within the startup community paid off. Not only did I surpass my expectations but we managed to receive 164 beta launch sign ups.

Try Task Pigeon Today!

It's the straightforward task management tool for teams who want to get things done!

These people not only came from the pre-launch list, but also the Startup Soda newsletter I run, and more importantly the wider startup ecosystem. Put simply I was humbled by the amount of people who liked, commented and shared my Facebook posts.

In a number of startup groups there was some great discussion going on, which helped keep the post front and centre for a good 24 to 48 hours.

While it’s great to talk about all the positive aspect of the launch, Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs often want to shy away from what went wrong.

That’s not the case with Task Pigeon.

A few hours before our beta launch we were still fixing bugs and making sure it all worked correctly. I’m not going to profess to know all of the technical in’s and out’s of why these issues popped up but moving from our test server to production, and adding the SSL certificate threw up a few additional challenges.

Fortunately I have an amazing developer working for me on Task Pigeon. You know you have made the right hiring decision when they are up to 3 or 4am in the morning making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

So Shawn, if you read this once again thanks for your awesome work on Task Pigeon.

You know you have made the right hiring decision when they are up to 3 or 4am in the morning making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

Three Lessons I Learnt From Our Beta Launch - Facebook FeedbackAfter a whirlwind 24 hours things naturally begin to slow down. For me our beta has always been able testing the application, making sure nothing breaks and getting additional feedback from our potential users.

Where I think we have fallen short is in focusing too heavily on just seeking feedback.

It’s a little hard to explain my thoughts here. But let me give it my best shot. By explicitly asking for feedback and not letting users naturally find and sign up to the beta we have muddied our results.

I know plenty of people signed up to take a look and offer their thoughts. And I am extremely grateful for this. But many of these people “only” signed up to offer their thoughts. That is to say they had no need or requirement for a task management tool. As a result they are highly unlikely to come back.

While their feedback was valuable, and they helped identify bugs, it makes tracking daily active users, or the percentage of users who return one week or one month later a lot harder to judge.

This leads me to the key takeaways I have learnt through this process.

Lesson One – Just Launch

Task Pigeon wasn’t perfect when we launched.

Technically, all of the core functionality worked. But I knew there were more features people would request, and things that could be better.

Sure, we could have waited until everything was perfect. But you really don’t need to. Any fear I had that people would care about one or two features being missing was put to bed very early.

By and large people understood this was very much version 1.0 and took it as such.

Plus, the feedback we have received since launching has helped us priortise the next set of features to roll out.

Lesson Two – Build a Network as soon as possible

I know what it’s like to launch a product and to hear crickets….

I have done it twice.

It’s never a good feeling to create something that no one uses or even takes a look at. Make sure that you start building your network as soon as possible.

No matter how large (or small), they are mini advocates who can help provide feedback and spread the word across social media.

Lesson Three – Ask How Relevant Your Beta Testers Are?

In any beta there is going to be a portion of people who join just to “check it out”. They never intend to come back. So you don’t need to worry about them too much.

What this does impact however is your retention metrics (and any other stat’s you follow). You need a way to segment out these users so you can get a clearer idea of how many people are returning and how they engage with your product or service.

If possible, focus on bringing people to your beta naturally. In Task Pigeon’s case this would involve bring people into the program who are specifically after a task management application, and not just doing a favor and taking a look.

What’s Next For Task Pigeon?

My goal for Task Pigeon has always been to move out of beta ASAP. Real, paying customers offer such great insight that I don’t believe you can keep your product in beta for too long. The metrics are just too fuzzy.

We have taken on board the feedback from our initial beta users and will be adding a number of additional features in the coming weeks.

After that we will emerge out of beta and open the product up to everyone. That’s when the real fun starts, and I as a founder won’t be able to hide from the success or failure of what we have built.

I look forward to the challenge.

Try Task Pigeon Today!

It's the straightforward task management tool for teams who want to get things done!

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About Author

Paul Towers - Founder @ Task Pigeon

Paul Towers is a 3x Entrepreneur and Founder of Task Pigeon. Join me on my journey to build an open & transparent startup from day one. Paul is also the founder of Startup Soda, a newsletter curating the best content from the Australian startup ecosystem.

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