“I just wanted to thank you”, Rock said.
I peered up over the folded gluten-free asparagus pizza, curious about what he meant. We were chatting in London at an evening meetup.
“Your book was responsible for the last minute pivot we did before an exit to Salesforce.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were running out of runway. We’d taken it as far as we could, growing our AI startup and community as much as we could, but even though it had become really popular, it was still mostly a bunch of software enthusiasts. The code was being used by companies in production by this point. But we were just a bit unfocused,” he said with what I suspected to be characteristic English understatement.
I’d met Rock about two years earlier at a similar event. At the time, he looked like a true startup founder. Excited, nerdy, and clearly not getting much sleep. He was still a PhD candidate at the time. Something about him inexplicably charmed me into just handing him a hard copy of my book, as a gift.
“We set up a few landing pages, following your advice in the book, and figured out which of our pivot ideas made the most sense. In the end, we chose to apply our software library to a particular application, which actually made it attractive to B2B sales and marketing teams,” he continued.
“So you finally had revenue to drive your growth, and also to justify a valuation?” I double-checked with him.
“Yeah, once we chose that particular niche it started going well, and we decided to start looking for investors. After some time, we eventually got, negotiated, and accepted a nine figure offer from Salesforce.”
While the US FCC legally requires me to say these aren’t typical results, they illustrate what’s possible with the Launch Tomorrow methodology. And it’s in line with my philosophy of focussing on your customer’s outcomes.
As a new product consultant, I succeed only if you do. My name is Luke Szyrmer. My customers and I have entered, fought and in some cases, conquered some of the toughest markets on earth: demanding hedge fund managers, the Mexico city transport system, the fight against cancer, and oil tanker captains responsible for billions of dollars in oil. All of them were operating in conditions of high technology and high uncertainty. Let’s achieve the same for you.
Bringing your fire to humankind
You have an idea. You hope to succeed. First to create it. And then to share it with the world.
I believe that creating a new product requires a Promethian confidence and faith, like bringing fire to world. Like an enthusiastic kid who wouldn’t know better.
Born in communist Warsaw, a city rebuilt from scratch after WWII, I find that many people are too attached to what they have right now. Because it all could disappear. And that could actually be a good thing. Because it frees you to think without constraints, rather than living with them.
Then I lived in both the US for two decades and London for over a decade. I am a serial immigrant. I’ve got decades of bootstrapping hustle experience; I feel it in my bones. Being resourceful out of necessity. Most of my youth was misspent among computers, books, and collaborative role playing games, ideally with fellow geeks who also liked all three.
As a result of changing cultural contexts so many times, I have first hand experience how important contextual assumptions are when entering a completely new environment. Similar to entering a completely new market with a new type of product.
Freshly armed with an eclectic education, I joined a hedge fund software company in London’s city 15 years ago. And I started saving up some cash for my very first entrepreneurial venture (the first in a long string of ideas, business opportunities, and side gigs).
Why is my product needed? And by whom?
This was a question I thought I had asked myself in 2008. I assumed I knew the answer and just proceeded to build out xl4hf (Excel for Hedge Funds). xl4hf.com was an educational video website in 2008. At the time, capital markets were crashing. To help teach financial industry professionals how to get the most out of Excel. And after bootstrapping with a solid chunk of savings and wedding gift money, I learned that most financial professionals had other things on their minds. Even the ones who were out of work weren’t excited to watch excel training videos.
This was my crashing welcome to the world of expensive, unverified assumptions. Asking the right questions wasn’t enough. Getting data to verify the answers was.
Since then, existential product risk has been the central driving concern for me professionally. How do we know our products are needed? Adding a lot of promotional muscle to a something nobody cares about is just a waste of money. Your fastest path to success with a new product? Identifying and overcoming internal and external obstacles to adoption, including tweaking the product!
The first success
As I got into blogging, I decided to test out the idea for a few books, before committing to writing and publishing one. Using a couple of different book cover mockups and descriptions, I identified a pocket of unmet demand. There was precious little on the web about early stage landing page testing.
I then kept refining and perfecting and polishing it, as a way to avoid facing yet another mis-step. We are often our worst enemies, because we delay contact. It’s tempting to hole up and refine something endlessly, so that it it’s perfect when it goes out. But actually this is just an elaborate game of self-sabotage. And delaying contact with the market, even if you expect it to be painful, will only increase the risk you are taking.
As I progressed through the ranks at work and landed in product, I realized the same is true for product development in established companies. Adding scope to refine and improve an unreleased product will only add to the likelihood that it doesn’t connect with a market segment. Yet when I finished editing it and launched it on a larger scale, I became the #1 bestselling author of Launch Tomorrow.