HOW TO SOFT-LAUNCH YOUR BUSINESS
If you have been participating in the Social Innovation Booster Program, you are familiar with designing your service together with your users. Even though this is an iterative process where you move back and forth between designing your purpose, designing your service and designing your business, you will need to launch one day and open up your doors to the public. But what is the best way to do this, and when is the right time? We asked our members to share their experience.
How Hack your Closet soft launched their service
Lisa and Mikaela, co-founders of Hack your Closet, describe how their service went from the ideation phase to the service design phase and launch over a very short period of time.
“There has never been anything like a launch for us. Hackyourcloset.com grew through recommendations and word of mouth. We soft-launched over a longer period of time”, Mikaela says. “Sometimes I feel like we are still prototyping or soft-launching our service, as we are constantly evolving and developing”.
Lisa, who had the original idea, brought shape and maturity to it by organizing a pilot or a live prototype with 10 potential customers in her living room in June 2019. She saw an instant interest for the service, and it took only a couple of weeks before her living room couldn’t take it anymore. At the same time, Lisa and Mikaela met, and they decided to turn the idea into a sustainable business together. Mikaela brought processes and structures to the business that allowed the business to grow and scale in a sustainable way. In November 2019 HackYourCloset.com grew with around 20 new customers per week and today (March 2020), they are serving more than 450 customers and have 8 full-time employees. If they hadn’t had the processes and structure in place before this growth, their growth would have been a lot more chaotic.
“I don’t really believe in celebrating with a big launch before you have a real proof of your market fit”, Lisa says. “When we have gained visibility across Europe, I think we will be ready for launch parties as we expand to new markets. Right now, our time and resources are tight and we have to spend them wisely.”
A soft launch is all about gradual growth
So let’s define what a soft launch is. A soft launch is a practice when instead of releasing a full version of your product or service, you deliver it in stages. This way, you can be sure that you leave yourself some space to reconsider things. This strategy is good for new products or services that haven’t reached their market fit yet. You can always take a few steps back or pivot your product entirely. What’s important to launch in the first iteration are any core features that will help the users see how your product can solve their problems. By gradually rolling the changes or features out, you can get real-life feedback from your customers, that will help you to fine-tune things before the next stage of the launch.
Mikeala’s advise to other impact entrepreneurs related to launch is: “Don’t work on your product too long before you launch, it is important to get potential customers’ input early in the business journey. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about your product at an early stage. The odds that someone will copy your idea and do it themselves is very small, Mikaela says. Focus on your WHY instead of WHAT, people will support any product if they believe in the intention behind it. Don’t be afraid of asking for help and be HONEST. It is especially important to be honest about everything when your business is a social innovation”
Social Innovation Booster is a community for social impact entrepreneurs who are using a design thinking approach for building a sustainable business. We love to highlight our members and their awesome social innovations! The community is free to join for impact entrepreneurs from all over the globe, regardless of where in your business journey you’re at. Join the community here!