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Not prepared for launch: when going viral sucks

If celebrity influencers are incorporated into your marketing plan right from the beginning, then your startup better be ready since day 1 as well.

Max Ringelheim
June 13, 2016
Not prepared for launch: when going viral sucks | Guest post

There's a saying in startup land that companies in their infancy stages should just launch their website as soon as they have a working MVP (minimum viable product). The point of this is to simply see what happens and how users and the market react to your idea. I can genuinely appreciate this statement and I've experienced this directly.

With my first startup there were multiple times during our three iterations of our technology where I struggled to push that almighty launch button.

Things that may concern you while iterating a new product:

  1. Whether or not your design is perfect.
  2. Whether elements on the page are properly aligned.
  3. Whether or not one more feature needs to be built prior to launch.
  4. Is all the functionality of the technology even working properly and well enough for launch?

These varying factors can certainly scare any entrepreneur from launching their product and deservedly so.

One thing I can definitely say that is exponentially more scary is abiding by this methodology when you're launching an expensive consumer goods product line. DO NOT - I REPEAT - DO NOT just launch without proper and adequate preparation. This preparation involves MANY MANY things such as having your team properly segregated by duty, or having enough staff in place to handle demand. For the purposes of today's blog post we're going to focus on having your supply chain working properly and having adequate inventory on hand.

If you're putting a product out in the marketplace for sale for the entire world to see and yet you don't have adequate amounts of the physical goods in stock, nor do you have the proper ability to acquire more inventory you're setting yourself up for disaster.

Launching a viral physical consumer goods line requires a much different kind of launch than let's say a potentially viral YouTube video or social networking app. If these later 2 things go viral overnight you're not facing the same bottlenecks that could jeopardize your business from day one.

If you launch a viral YouTube video or new viral social networking app the worst that happens is you have dissatisfied viewers/users who are upset they can't load your video or webpage because it crashes. You then get your engineers on this problem and they fix it usually within a couple days.

On the contrary, when you're selling a $1,500 Hoverboard like my former company was and it goes viral overnight, the problems your business faces become much more serious. When Kendall Jenner posts and tags your brand on her Instagram (like she did for us) this results in hundreds of people purchasing your product minutes later. When you walk into your office on the morning after (having responded to tens of thousands of Instagram comments) and you see a total of 12 units in stock, trust me, you have some damn serious problems on your hands.

If celebrity influencers are incorporated into your marketing plan right from the beginning, then your startup better be ready since day 1 as well. When these celebrities post on your behalf, you're instantly going to get thousands of eyeballs interested in your product. If you're not ready for that mad rush of traction (which, in our case, came in the form of sales) you and your company are doomed.

Here's what happens if your influencer marketing strategy doesn't match your startup's structure:

  • Not having inventory on hand leads to being on back order from day one.
  • Extremely agitated customers who call asking about their order
  • People disputing their payments when they hear it's a 4 to 8 week waiting period for their order to be shipped, because your supply chain is broken
  • Miserable conversations with your overseas' manufacturer on when to expect your shipment to arrive (they may consistently lie about this date)
  • Which leads to a much more difficult fulfillment process, due to not knowing what portion of your customer base you're up to in fulfillment.

What then happens is all of these extreme problems for a super young startup company begin perpetuating themselves week over week, and as soon as you solve one problem, another 3 have already popped up.

However, if you take the time and effort to straighten out your supply chain from the beginning, things can be different. For instance, you can hire reputable third party agencies in China to manage your factories' production levels and facilitate your shipments. Also, you can have in place another pre-manufactured PO ready for shipment as soon as you give the green light, prior to your launch date.

What do you think? Let me know!

Written by Max Ringelheim


Max Ringelheim is a 26 year old seasoned, successful, and as many others before him failed entrepreneur.  After graduating college Max co-founded and bootstrapped his own video conferencing technology company called  After 3.5 years and seeing many accomplishments such as raising over $150,000 in angel funding, and having his software utilized at the United Nations, he decided to put Vonvo on hold. He then transitioned into a consulting role for various startup companies in NYC. Some of his most recent consulting roles were assisting as an SDR for an Ad-Tech startup called ListenLoop, and being responsible for co-launching the recently acclaimed "Hoverboard Movement."  Some accomplishments he experienced in the Hoverboard industry were generating over 7 figures in sales revenues in less than 8 weeks, and establishing dozens of partnerships with various notable celebrities. Max is now looking for new opportunities with exciting companies where he can leverage his tireless work ethic, enormous network, and viral growth hacking abilities. 

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Not prepared for launch: when going viral sucks


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