Many people know that I'm a big fan of the "release early, release often" motto that still echoes from my days going through YC as an early developer with Frogmetrics. When I launched Snapm I tried to live by this mantra as I built and released v1 in a little under a month. That proved to be one of the most valuable decisions I made as it allowed me to get plenty of feedback and early user testing way before anyone normally would have seen the working site. In my latest project, JumpPost, I attempted to push the boundaries of an early release even farther by rolling back the curtain as soon as the product did one simple thing. (The JumpPost background and story to be written about in a future post). Why do I do this? A couple of reasons.
Why I release early
First of all, as it's been written about many times, there's no better substitute for customer research than real user feedback. I strongly believe that you don't know what your users want, and they don't even know what they want, until they're actively using your product. I've seen countless occasions where users demand one feature or component of a product (IT MUST WORK ON AN AIRPLANE!) only to realize that they have no use for it after it's been built.
More importantly however, there's no better motivation to constantly improve your product, than to have a less than complete product out in the world. There's a saying among agile developers that, "If you're not embarrassed of your product, then you haven't released early enough." I'd modify that a little bit to say, "If you don't feel the obligation to your customers to be constantly improving your product, then you haven't released early enough." It's not quite as powerful as using the word "embarrassed", but I purposefully don't use that word because the last thing I am is embarrassed about releasing early. In fact I would say that I'm the opposite of embarrassed. I'm proud to have released early. I can't wait to push new changes and updates to the site multiple times per day. I can't wait to watch our users marvel at how they request a feature and it's implemented and released within days or hours. That's the stuff that makes you want to work.
It's easy to delay launching. There's always another "must have" feature to be built before you feel that you're ready. But it's hard to put yourself out there. I strongly recommend giving it a shot on your next project.
If you live in NYC and happen to be moving out of your apartment in the next 6 months, check out JumpPost.com and list your apartment. You'll make $500 if it rents, and you'll hardly have to do any work.