“Once the color pallet matches our business cards, we’ll ship”


“Once we tweak the UI color pallet to match our business cards, we’ll ship.” said the self-titled CEO. It was an unusually warm autumn day as Startup Employee X couldn’t believe the words coming out of the CEO’s mouth. This was the fourth delay on a project that was over budget, behind schedule, and they were losing market share to their competitors.

Startup Employee X began to notice a pattern. Every time the product was ready to go the CEO got cold feet and found an arbitrary problem. Employee X worked tirelessly to convince the CEO they were ready to ship, but he refused to listen. The Employee could see the writing on the wall and decided to resign his position.

By the time spring rolled around, the company still hadn’t shipped their product and their bank account was quickly dwindling. The company laid off the majority of it’s staff. The CEO still refused to ship. Three months after that, the company shut down. They never shipped anything.

You could (rightfully) blame the ineptitude of the CEO for the companies failure but I believe the heart of the problem lies in the CEO’s fear of shipping. Unfortunately I’ve seen many founders exhibit some of these same characteristics (thankfully not to the same degree). Things change substantially when you have some skin in the game. It’s far worse to never ship anything then to ship and fail.

Be brave, focus on what’s important, and get some skin in the game. Ship.

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  • A good story there Paul! I think you’ve got a good argument and it backs up what King was saying in one of the previous posts on here.

    We just totally redesigned and redeveloped our application Diswo and launched it yesterday. It’s a shadow of it’s old self in terms of features but its great to get the user feedback so early to shape the rest of the development.

  • The old mantra of ship early and ship often seems to be one of the enduring truisms of tech startups. Every time I stop looking at the code of my startup socialdeal.net (shameless plug, I’m sorry, I can’t help it) and look at the home page I cringe at the the inelegance of the design that I had to accept as a result of my limited design skills as a developer. But I keep telling myself, launching gives me the chance to earn enough to get a proper design done, but endlessly screwing around in Photoshop never would have earned me anything at all.

  • Alex4444

    That would suck to work there. I hope that guy landed on his feet.

  • Sadly there are many startups (and even larger businesses) that work this way. It’s just as much the employee’s responsibility to ensure that the product ships as it is that of the CEO and the board members, VCs, and other investors.

    Shipping can be scary, but it’s all that matters.

  • I found shipping the first version of my site horrifying to be honest. But really getting it out there is the best thing. Even if your site/service sucks or doesn’t gain many users – at least you will know. Once once you know you can fix the problems (or pivot I guess).

  • We had an interesting experience when we first launched IActionable.com. We put up our site and our API and never really announced anything. We gave a couple of ‘beta’ accounts away but never thought much of them. Then one morning I got an email from someone saying they had just implemented our API on their site and they are live! I was both excited and horrified at the same time. At this time I still treated the servers still as a dev environment. So, I basically put my hands up and said “Here we go, I guess I’ll be leaving the server on tonight!”. Who knows when I would have ever really felt ‘ready’ to ship. I’m sort of glad the decision was taken away from me.

  • Geekette

    Typo alert: it’s color palette, not “pallet”