Less Than 2 Weeks Until TD Launch

I’m starting to realize that this 4/1/2008 launch date for Tastefully Driven was a bit aggressive.  We didn’t realize how much time would be wrapped up in settling into the warehouse.  Nor did we consider how much extra work we’d need to put in as Detailed Image was expanding and reaching record levels in sales.  After all, there’s just four of us.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have pushed for 5/1.

That’s what makes it all the more amazing when I can honestly say that I’m 99% sure we’ll make our targeted launch date.   It’s a testament to the focus and determination of our team.  Every single person is maxing themselves out right now.  No one is complaining though – just dead set on what needs to be done to achieve the task at hand.  We all see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so we don’t spend any time at all ‘worrying’ if we’re making bad decisions.

The pre-launch marketing has gone OK.  If anything, that’s what’s suffered the most from the time crunch.  We don’t have a ton of names signed up on the splash page, but we do have a lot of links to the site and a lot of blog posts on the pre-launch blog indexed.  In the end, knowing that the site will be indexed by search engines immediately is more important than an extra thousand names on an email list.   This is our most important domain moving forward and having it be “perfect” from a SEO standpoint is important.

So what’s left to do:

  • Receive the remainder of the products.  A few companies are taking extremely long to fulfill orders, but I’m pretty certain it’ll all be here by early next week.
  • Finish writing all of the product descriptions.  This is the one I’m most worried about because it takes so much damn time.  I guarantee we make it…but these are being written right up until the second we launch.
  • Photograph all of the products.  George has a digital SLR and he takes amazing photos (see the pics on DI for examples).
  • Weigh all the products (for shipping calculations).
  • Do our quality testing of the entire site.  I think this can be done in about two or three full days, but I like to allow for more time just in case something major needs fixing.  We’ll start over the weekend – around Easter commitments of course – and hopefully be done by Tuesday.
  • Write an initial newsletter to send to people on our splash page.  Mike is quickly becoming a master of designing for emails.
  • Write initial blog posts and have initial forum conversations so the entire system isn’t bare ass when the first visitors arrive.

Not a ton of stuff to do, but also not an insignificant amount of stuff to do.  Everyday we still are processing DI orders, handling customer service for DI, SL, and other sites, and doing all types of misc warehouse stuff.  On top of that, we’ve got Easter this weekend and next weekend we’re spending our Saturday at a charity event for the American Lung Association.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m very much looking forward to both things and would rather push launch back by a day than miss either one – I’m just saying that those inhibit us from working and we really have more like 10 days to work with instead of 12.

By far, this is my least favorite time in developing a site.  The time just before launch is by far the most stressful and worrisome:  there’s always that fear in the back of your mind that what you’re doing could be a total bomb and until that fear is relieved I’m a bit on edge.

Then again, I’ve never been more confident in my life about something than I am about TD.  So that fear is masked a bit by an extreme excitement.  I’m like that ten year old on December 15th who really wants an Xbox 360.  It seems like Christmas will never come.

2 comments on Less Than 2 Weeks Until TD Launch

  1. Brandon Greenlee says:

    Why so much emphasis on a grand launch?

    Just get the site out there and rapidly iterate. Until you go completely public you will never know whether you are even close to being on the right path. This is a long development to be relatively private.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Hi Brandon – there’s definitely not an emphasis on a grand launch. The pre-launch blog primarily served it’s purpose: get the site indexed with minimal effort while we were still finishing things up.

    I disagree completely that this is a long development – our philosophy always has been to get it out as fast as possible and rapidly iterate from there.

    Some things take a long time and can’t be accelerated. We have approximately 200 products on launch. Most are coming direct from the manufacturer. Each has involved negotiations, credit checks (so they can put us on net 30 billing terms), and turn-around time for delivery…in some cases we had production runs specifically done for TD to meet our requirements.

    Without the products, we can’t weight them, photo them, or write much of a description. I’m not going to put up an e-commerce site with everything back-ordered and no pictures or descriptions…what purpose would that serve? They need to be weighed for an accurate shipping quote, so it’s not like that’s optional either.

    There’s really nothing on that list that I view as ‘optional’. As I mentioned in a previous post (http://www.adammcfarland.com/2008/03/06/the-art-of-the-launch/), we started with the idea that the earliest that we could get the site out was 8/1. With everyone busting their ass we were able to greatly accelerate our time table.

    We are only a four man team. Expanding Detailed Image and settling into our warehouse alone could take 100% of our time.

    All in all, we’ve moved as fast as we can to produce a quality product. Our entire team has been working 10-12 hour days, 7 days a week to make all of this happen. You might feel differently, but it feels like a miracle to me that we’ve actually managed to get this thing ready for a 4/1 launch. 4/1 was the date we set before all of the chaos of the last few months happened, and somehow we’ve still managed to keep our launch date when I think a lot of companies would have taken the easy road out and delayed until 5/1 or 6/1.

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