Breakthrough product innovation can't happen without failure, but the only way to succeed in the future is to rebound quickly from the past. As startup founders, we're all familiar with the old adage fail fast; we want to get the most out of every precious dollar and hour invested in our companies. Even for resource-rich corporations, however, learning to get right back up is essential for future success, especially when it comes to a successful product launch.
Failure to Launch
Apple, unfortunately, seems to have missed the memo. In 2018, a string of conspicuous product delays triggered a crash in the tech giant's stock value. Chief among these product delays was the AirPower, the wireless charger first announced in 2017 alongside the iPhone X that has yet to make it to market. For a time, analysts believed that the product, of which the value proposition remains fuzzy, might have been shelved altogether.
Whether this is true remains unclear. The company’s website still lists at least six open positions associated with the enigmatic device, and recent reports have gestured vaguely toward a 2019 release date. However, there’s certainly no guarantee AirPower will ever actually materialize. Whether due to ballooning project costs, shifting internal priorities, or something else, Airpower, like countless other consumer-tech products, might ultimately turn out to be a flop.
Fortunately for Apple, the company’s financial stability doesn’t depend on the success of its wireless charger. But for companies that are pressed for money and time, a failure to launch could have more dire consequences.
How to Launch a Product Successfully
Here are a few steps I’ve learned from my own failures that you can take to ensure your next product launch doesn’t end in disaster:
- Plan, build, test, repeat.
Before you start building, make sure you have a plan in place for avoiding the typical pitfalls of a product launch, such as out-of-control costs, strategic misalignment, or never-ending timelines. Document this plan, and understand that unforeseen problems will inevitably arise later in the project workflow. Problems will be easier to manage if they’re isolated and not related to larger project mismanagement issues. Most importantly, seek customer feedback early and often. Whenever possible, test product prototypes in the market and see how customers respond.
Airbnb recently implemented this strategy to perfection when determining whether to move forward with a new landing page design. Because old landing pages used different URLs for different markets, the gig economy powerhouse could randomize the URLs to either include the new design or not, isolating the design’s impact on search engine traffic. By taking this approach, Airbnb was able to verify that the new design led to an increase in search traffic (by about 3.5 percent). So by the time Airbnb was ready to roll out the design on a global scale, it was confident in its decision.
- Make time for reflection.
Hosting frequent team retrospectives will allow you to tackle challenges proactively rather than reactively. If team members are spending more time on the project than they budgeted for or they’re running into issues that might require outside talent, it’s better to attack these items quickly.
Sometimes, an outside perspective is exactly what you need to get a stalled project moving again. At Yeti, we understand that no individual or team knows everything about a particular piece of technology. That’s why we’ve worked with a wide range of San Francisco app developers and designers to prototype and launch scalable, smart technologies with our specialty Internet of Things app development. We’re happy to help you fill in your knowledge gaps.
- Know when to let go.
Countless projects have been delayed (sometimes permanently) by the sunk cost fallacy. Make sure yours isn’t one of them. If you find yourself continually missing project deadlines or spending far more than you should on product development, it might be time to walk away. Nearly half of all digital leaders have abandoned mobile app projects at least once — it’s just part of the process.
If you do find yourself making the tough decision to move on, just remember to thank your teammates for their work and use what you learn from failure to guide your next project. You can bounce back.
Whether you're a Fortune 100 company or a small team of developers, you’re bound to encounter failure at some point. However, if you follow the advice above, you can increase your odds of success when it’s time to launch your next product.
As one of Silicon Valley’s premier React agencies, Yeti works with small teams to deliver big results. For more ideas on how to make your next product launch a success, visit us at Yeti.co.
Tony Scherba is a CEO + Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.