Over at CodeSnipers, Gavin Bowman started a series about common micro ISV mistakes. In his first post of this series, he talks about the mistake of keeping a product idea secret until you release it. Very interesting read and so true.
Here at Gurock Software, we’ve done exactly the same mistake. We kept SmartInspect secret until the day we launched the 1.0. We thought this was the best way of doing it and unfortunately we have been wrong. Although our product idea isn’t something revolutionary, we didn’t want (potential) competitors to know what we plan to release. We didn’t want to share our ideas. What we haven’t thought of back then was that our potential customers didn’t know either and this is obviously not what an early-stage ISV wants.
Although we are really satisfied with the first version of SmartInspect, it would probably have been better if we got feedback prior to the release. After the release, we found out that a few features aren’t so necessary as thought and could have been easily delayed for a future release or even been skipped completely. At the same time, we got feedback with useful suggestions or ideas we haven’t even thought of. Going public with our ideas would also probably have had an impact on our marketing. Although our free edition helps us a lot in this direction, I think SmartInspect would be more known today which usually results in having more sales.
To summarize, I think if we made our idea public like, say, 6 months prior to the release, SmartInspect could have been released earlier, with a different, slightly better feature set and would be more known. One thing’s for sure, we won’t make the same mistake again when creating our second product.
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