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On Product (Part 1 of 4)- Launch when Ready not When Perfect

As F3TCH is nearing a true scalable working product, we thought we may write a few entries on our view of product releases. We are fortunate in having in-house experience with this subject matter. We have designed products in the hospitality sector that, by now, are likely close to $400 million in total sales. That is a tremendous amount of money, more so when you consider we were not a consumer product, but a B2B product. That does not take into consideration the customer support systems we put in place (and named), as well as a myriad of processes and practices that we designed and built around the products. We mention this to simply show that we have been there and done that.

As to F3TCH and its first iteration for the marketplace, we can unequivocally state that it will work, and it will work very well. For us, however, the product will not be where we would like it to be or look the way we may want it to look. That is par for the course when it is your product. We are already thinking of ways to improve the way it works and looks. As developers, we have a very clear idea of what we want the product to do, the benefits we want our customers to see from it, and the potential interconnectivity this can offer. While having strong product evolution is great, all of that will take time and we really do not have the time to tinker with products in that manner. Not only could it hamper our acceptance in the market, but it is entirely possible that more than 50% of what we think is “cool”, the market will not care about. That’s just how it works.

In short, the initial F3TCH product will be great. It will serve its function well, it will be a great (10x) improvement on what is available today, and it will be, in its niche, a disruptive new solution. For us, our launch decision is not perfection, but “good enough”. You see we will never get to perfection. We may come close, but in order to reach “perfect”, we need customers- hotels & guests alike. Once F3TCH encounters users, then we can start iterating, improving, and making the magic happen. But that would never ever happen if we kept the product in the lab, worrying about the myth of perfection.

Two caveats:

1) The product must operate its basic functions very well. It may look a bit clunky, but it must work well, otherwise, you released it too early. Our point is that “good enough” is much easier to reach than “perfect” and cash flow solves a lot of ugly in my experience.

2) Not being afraid of releasing is not the same as being prepared. Whenever you launch, a lot of thought and preparation (usually in the form of processes) should have taken place such that as soon as the product hits the market, you have the appropriate support to ensure quick fixes and improvements. This ensures lower acquisition cost, better lifetime value, lower churn, and better customer satisfaction. Everyone knows we are “new”. The real issue is will F3TCH “fix” the problems that arise? We will because we understand the value of support in every product launch.

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