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May 1, 2014

Timing is Everything

Picture 100

The hardest conversations at a startup inevitably revolve around whether or not your product is ready to let loose on the public.

Do we first ship it while continuing to fix bugs, enhance design, and increase functionality? After all, since we’re not actually boxing it up and physically “shipping” it out, we can always update later. Or, do we make yet another list of desired changes, and wait until we’ve completed those tasks before we push the launch button?

Is “done” really “better than perfect”? Won’t it be embarrassing if there are bugs or glitches?

Whether it’s a cliche, a mantra, or simply the most frequent conversation you’ll ever have at a startup, it’s one we’ve been having at Zula once or twice every day.

While Zula has been available on iOS and Android for 6 months, the most frequent request we receive is for a web version of our team messaging app. Yes, we have one in development/QA – one that we as a team use every day, and we absolutely love it. But, we haven’t shipped it yet, and I’m partially to blame.

As Zula’s Product Person, it is usually my responsibility to have a very strong opinion on whether we ship, or whether we deem one or more bugs, awkward UX behaviors, or missing features to be “showstoppers.” I will stand passionately on either side of this debate; I have been the one to urge the team to release almost as often as I have insisted that nothing be shipped until more tweaks are made. My opinion can usually sway the decision one way or another, and the case of the delayed web app has been no different.

This usually continues until we reach a subtle tipping point to which I have grown sensitive. I can feel it as soon as the product gets to a certain level of functionality and quality. This typically happens when the value of releasing it to our customers outweighs needed improvements.

Today, I can confidently say that Zula will be releasing it’s web app very soon. Because, this time, I won’t be standing in the way.

– Jo Friedman, VP Products