I recently read an article ‘Hope Is Not a Launch Strategy’. I was intrigued by the title, so I borrowed it. Hope is a basic human reaction to uncertainty, and uncertainty is the core environment of a startup. Without hope an entrepreneur would not make it to launch, and yet at all stages in development hope must be tempered with action. So why do some get to the launch phase and expect a somehow magic success?

It seems that even more than a century after Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed the famous Mousetrap Fallacy (if you build a better mousetrap, even if you live in the woods the world will beat a path to your door) people still value the technical superiority of a product over a good marketing strategy. Granted, all marketing begins with a great product; building something that people actually need or want and are willing to pay for. It’s perfectly natural to think: I’ve developed a unique product (tick) that is based on a real problem (tick) that has a defined market (tick) that the customer is willing to pay for (tick). Why wouldn’t the world, or at least this customer segment, beat a path to my door?

Hope leads people to believe that their product will speak for itself, and this hope is escalated by the marvels of modern technology. The internet, social media, and globalisation all contribute to the hope that a product might ‘go viral’ and become an overnight success story. There is a pervasive thought that all a product needs is for a small seed to be planted; a website, a Facebook page, or a short product video, and word will start to spread, the customer base will grow and blossom, and soon infiltrate major markets around the world. But hope is not a product launch strategy.

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Ross Khoury