Failed attempts to launch product

Don’t launch blind. Why 95% of launches fail.

Feb 20, 2024

Have you ever poured your heart into a new product or service, dreaming it'll be the next big thing, only to watch it flop?

It's a story too many business owners know all too well.

After I sold my first business, I threw a good chunk of change into a startup aimed at tackling food waste. We thought we had it all figured out: chatted with a few industry ‘experts’, listened to partners and salespeople, and built this kick-ass fire sale platform – it was slick, but when we went live? 


Why? We skipped a crucial step: investing in really listening to potential customers.

If we had established a straightforward survey mechanism, we could have gained valuable insights, such as understanding how supermarkets and distributors mitigate waste costs—costs we aimed to reduce for them—by returning goods nearing expiration to the manufacturer.

The road is littered with product failures

Turns out, the road to launch is littered with stories like ours. You've probably heard that grim stat – 95% of new launches tank.

It's a tough pill to swallow, and while it's not an exact science, it's a pretty loud wake-up call about the hurdles of making it big.

So, what trips us up? A lot, actually. Here's a quick rundown:

  1. Skimping on the Homework:Jumping in without getting to know your audience is like shooting in the dark.
  2. What Makes You Special?:If you're just another "me too" product, why would anyone switch?
  3. Weak Launch Plan:Got a great product but no plan to get it out there? It's like winking in the dark.
  4. Tuning Out Feedback:Ignoring early signals from your audience is a fast track to nowhere.
  5. Budget Blunders:Running out of cash before you even get off the ground? Ouch.
  6. Bad Timing:Rush and release a half-baked product, or drag your feet and miss the boat entirely.
  7. Glitchy Goods:Nothing tanks trust like a product that doesn’t do what it says on the box.
  8. Wishful Thinking on Demand:Overestimate your appeal, and you'll be swimming in unsold stock.
  9. Red Tape Tango:Some industries will have you jumping through more hoops than a circus lion.
  10. Scaling Stumbles:Crushing it in a small test market doesn’t always mean you’re ready for the big leagues.
  11. Underestimating the Competition:If you’re not watching your back, be ready to be overtaken.
  12. Economic Downturns:Sometimes, it’s just bad timing, and wallets snap shut. 


Been there, seen that – from Google Glass's privacy woes to New Coke's taste-test turmoil, and even Colgate’s... adventurous dive into frozen dinners (yep, that happened).

So, what's a savvy entrepreneur to do? It’s not about overthinking to the point of paralysis; it’s about smart, strategic moves.

Take Harry's for example. This D2C grooming brand gathered 100,000 customer emails in the first week of their referral program. And get this – their grand entrance was still on the horizon.

So, what was their magic trick?

Harry’s kept it super simple – a page with barely two clicks worth of space. It’s all minimalist cool with a straightforward message that hits right at home:

Harry’s is coming

Respecting the face and wallet

Since like…Right Now.


No fluff, no novels about their journey, no made-up praises. Just a sleek razor pic that said, “Trust us, we’ve got you.” And folks lined up, signing their names under the bold promise of “be the first to know.”

But here’s the kicker – instead of throwing stacks of cash at the usual ad giants (yeah, looking at you, Google and Facebook), the Harry’s crew played it smart with referral marketing. They sparked a little fire that made everyone want to bring their buddies along for the ride.

Even though they eventually moved on from this strategy, the buzz was enough to bag them a cool $100 million in funding. Just like that, Harry’s was off to the races.

Talk about making an entrance, right?

Here’s the product launch playbook:

  1. Tease with a Waitlist: Before anything else, see if people are actually interested.
  2. Deep Dive with Surveys: Get the dirt on what your audience really needs, directly from the source.
  3. Craft Your Message: Nail down your sales pitch and design a landing page that converts.
  4. Launch to Fans, Not Crickets: Roll out your product to an audience that can't wait to get their hands on it.
  5. Keep It Exclusive: Limit spots to stoke demand and ensure you can deliver on your promises.

By flipping the script this way, you’re not just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. You’re making informed decisions, building buzz, and setting yourself up to sell out and keep those orders rolling in.

Here’s to launching something great – the smart way. 


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