Read a good post by Fred Wilson (Partner at Union Square Ventures, one of Behance’s investors before acquisition) about companies that become too focused too soon on sales and marketing, and lose grasp of their product vision. Ultimately, a product may never achieve its stride. Fred explains:

Launching a product is not the same thing as achieving product market fit. The organization may need another six months, a year, or even longer to get to prodcut market fit.

One of the things I have observed over the years is that a hard charging sales oriented founder/CEO can often hide the defects in a product. Because the founder is so capable of convincing the market to adopt/purchase the product, the company can get revenue traction with a product that is not really right. And that can hide all sorts of problems.

I think about this a lot. A fresh product is never what it should be out of the gate. If you’re able to focus on it long enough after launch, you can optimize and dig into the flaws to make the product extraordinary (read: scalable, defensible, and memorable).

It is easy to get distracted after you launch a new product. An immediate shift to sales and marketing is the most likely culprit, followed by new features or something new and shiny on your roadmap. Investor impatience makes matters worse, fostering the belief that v1.0 is anything more than the foundation for the value you are building.

It’s like day-trading vs. value investing. You can’t achieve something brilliant unless you have a great thesis and really sit with it. Product-driven entrepreneurs are able to protect the product from being marketed or sold until it is sufficiently iterated.

I know it’s exciting, but don’t harvest seedlings as soon as they sprout. Wait…..for….it.

  • Omri Levy

    A good example is Bitcasa, a very hyped file locker who started charging before their product is ready for show time. The result: lots of unhappy users and a very supportive media coverage.

  • Mari Vega

    Mistakes were made. Experience is the greatest, though most expensive teacher. When starting out as a fledgling t-shirt printing company, there was so much to learn by trial and error including what direction we wanted to go in, whether to focus on custom printing, or make our own designs. It’s a lot to take in. It is probably sound advice to tell someone to stick with it, and, though the road will initially be very rocky, it will smooth out later on.

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