Launch before Release

Tom Hulme of IDEO talks about launching the product or service as idea before the actual release of it in the market. In the software parlance it would saying launch your product in beta state or may be even Alpha state when it is still an idea.

He talks about a simple 3 step process: Skip the focus group, take the idea / product to the real users and take their feedback


  • You get the pulse of the real customers before you invest too much.
  • Know the real target group for the product based on the response
  • Customers get to participate in building up the product / service


  • Ideas are there in the open and can be picked up by potential competition
  • Launching work-in-progress products can lead to legal and operational issues
  • If the idea is rejected before it is perceived correctly by the public, you may not get the second chance


Like everything else, I think this approach can be used for certain type of products and may be for some range of services. I would say may be for absolutely new ideas that have no precedents and you may wonder if it would be accepted at all, or products where you roughly know the idea but may want to fine tune it based on the customer feedback and their experience. Universally applying this would lead to more chaos than what can be handled by most entrepreneurs.

Anuradha Goyal

One Comment

  1. In software world, we call this as Alpha program or a Beta program, depending on the level of development. Even in early stage of product development, the product is shipped to ‘Alpha’ customers for testing & feedback. The customers are carefully selected and the program is protected with legal contracts. Alpha program is done mainly to validate the problem & the possible solution. The product financials are not yet defined in the Alpha program. Alpha programs are usually done to validate the business models.

    Beta programs is a much wider program with a larger set of customers and is done when the product is close to the release dates. Here the business case is already defined, pricing is also defined, and only the actual field testing or customer acceptance testing is carried out. The Beta program is a quality assurance step often done to validate the product in real user environment.

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