Eric Ries speaking at Lean DC

Last night I attended an impromptu meeting of the #LeanDC meetup.  I say impromptu because it’s my understanding they pulled the meeting together in just a few days because Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup, was in DC this week and so it was an opportunity to have a big name speak.

They did a great job putting together the event quickly, and it was a pretty packed room.  The discussion was “fireside chat” style and wide ranging, but very informative and inspiring.  There’s a lot that I could blog about and that I took notes on, but I want to focus on just one big takeaway for now.

A question was asked about launching a new company’s website, and Eric got them to expand on what they were doing to promote it and what exactly “launch” means to them.  There was some great back and forth, but here was the point that really stuck out to me:

We should be separating the Product Launch and the PR Launch.  You should launch the product now, but delay the PR launch as long as you can, until you really know you have good product fit.  The gap between those two times is when you learn the most and you should enjoy it.

That’s not the exact quote I’m sure, but it’s pretty close.  I thought that was a great insight.  There’s no reason to not just take the site live now, and start getting customer feedback.  There’s also no reason not to get your first customers in the door and using the site now.  You don’t even need to call it a beta, just do it and start learning.

But hold off on the calls to media outlets and the PR blitz until you’ve worked with those initial customers for a while and confirmed that your service is what they need.  Once you are ready for the PR blitz, your splash should be that much better because you have customers already and you’ve already adjusted the service to be what they value the most.