Failure to launch

In August 2012 I got a phone call from one of my close friends Chu. He was working at EA Sports (FIFA Department) at the time and was looking for a social media management app that would help him and his team schedule and plan out tweets in advance of game releases and also do promotional campaigns. I rattled off the usual suspects like Hootsuite and Buffer app to him. He was already using Hootsuite and he had investigated Buffer and a bunch of other apps I had never heard of but none of them quite fit the exact use case they had at EA. "So what will it take to build something like this?" he asked me. Underestimating the work I was like "Oh a week max, this is nothing".

Something you should know about Chu is that he is a Celebrity Influencer in FIFA gaming community, If you have played FIFA 16 you probably have seen him in this video explaining how to play Ultimate Team, he also a domain expert in social media so he would be very useful on the project.

After a little research, thanks to Buffers open policy and information I found about Hootsuite enterprise plans, I realized there was money to be made in this space and so it was easy to convince some of my other friends Ben and Alex to join the team to build Hatchpost. We brainstormed about how this can go beyond the FIFA department and be useful in other EA departments, I got excited and started having visions of the EA logo on our product as one of our customers. The caveat to the whole thing is that the EA FIFA department needed this solution NOW and were already doing demos with other companies, another situation is that Chu's direct boss was the decision maker and he was about to leave EA, so we had about a month to make this happen.

To cut a long story short, we missed the window and EA settled on an app they would "make work". This was fine because there was enough space in the market for another social media management app and so we continued development on Hatchpost. We did not know it at the time, but in retrospect this is where we got lost. We had been so focused chasing EA as a client we had not decided what a Minimum viable product meant to us, none of us (developers) were experts in social media so we kept adding features to build next and what was important in the space, once EA was no longer in the picture we slowly started to realize we did not know much about this space and we started to lose confidence in our work. Not the quality of code, but in wether our app has any value at all.

Regardless three months in, we had a fully working app but no confidence in it. We redesigned the marketing site 2 times, we added unnecessary features we thought would make a difference and my lowest point was when I started comparing the features we had to the other people in the market. We had a fully functioning social media management app that had features no one else had we still NEVER launched it. We took entrepreneurial classes, got Beta testers in the process, and every couple of months we get an email from someone showing interest in the product and Ben and I will chat and be like "Dude we should really just release this thing", we agree and then after a couple minutes one of us says "Well lets clean up the landing page first" or add some random feature to make it release ready and then nothing happens. We seemed to always find reasons why Hatchpost was not good enough.

I have created and released many software products since Hatchpost but when I think about Hatchpost I am filled with regret for just not putting the software out there. This was a failure in having no direction in a project and example of where seeking perfection was a negative. A lesson I have learned well since then.

Now when I hear some of my friends tell me about their finished products, followed by reasons why it is not ready for release yet, I smile and tell them to just put it out there because there is a lower probability you will regret something you launched than something you never did.