Report from the post-launch trenches
Submitted by brian on Fri, 11/11/2011 – 11:52am
When we started developing the concept for republic wireless, we as many startup teams were proud of our idea. We hoped people would like it, that we could engineer it, and that we could build a new kind of company to go with it.
Rather than waiting until everything was built perfectly and completely, we decided instead to introduce our technology as a limited “beta.” We adhere to the classic software company idea of a beta being a test that ends as quickly as possible. There are many advantages to testing quickly rather than waiting. For one, beta is a chance to ensure that real people using the technology in real situations have a chance to tell us what they think. In the end, that helps create a better product for general release (“GA”).
Now, to be perfectly clear, having a beta product is no excuse for having a beta ecommerce process. We never intended to be that –far from it. So I’m not here today to ask for patience or offer excuses, but to respond to your concerns, as promised, and provide explanations. Some of the most common bugs reported have been:
- Email confirmation not received
- Discrepancy in amounts actually charged vs. the order summary
- Received invoice from Phonebooth Mobile that should not have been received
As proud as we are of our idea, the intensity of demand for it has been simply overwhelming. We were prepared to serve a fair number of people. In a very short time, however, over one million people have visited our website. All of our original inventory was sold out in four short hours, then the additional amount we were able to locate in another four! You wrote us thousands of email messages, and hundreds more tweets and posts.
The crush of your demand has kicked us into overdrive. We’ve quickly hired additional staff and worked around the clock to handle your emails and phone calls, and to interact with you online. All the while, the team members trained to fix problems have been listening to and getting to the bottom of every problem that arose during those frenetic post-launch hours.
Problems are really just opportunities to excel. The sheer volume of response we face, however, limits how fast our experts can resolve them all. We’re not in over our heads, as one Facebook commenter averred. We’re just a limited number of human beings, with a limited number of waking hours, facing some rather unexpected problems directly related to the sensational volume of your demand.
It turns out our idea is bigger than we are. It takes time for a business to catch up with a reality like that. That doesn’t mean that we’re incompetent, or that you get what you pay for. We have much higher standards for republic wireless than that. Our team is amazing. I’m proud to work alongside them.
Amidst all of this, we’re eager to provide you with the product you ordered. Next week, we’ll communicate estimated ship dates. We anticipate that the first ship date will be Friday, November 18 to a small initial group, which is normal for a beta technology release. Every week after that, we’ll ship more. As we promised, within 60 days of Nov 8 (which is the first week of January), everyone should receive their order. We’ll contact you by email the week before we ship, just to confirm and make sure we have everything right.
If this experience isn’t for you, I respect that and want to reaffirm our refund policy. We’re a new company, with new technology. We’ll get it right, if not out of the gate, then soon after. That’s because we listen, and we’re passionate about what we’re doing. What we’re working so hard for right now isn’t about us or selling something to you. Instead, it’s about the very different wireless future that republic wants to make possible for everyone.
Many of you are wondering when we’ll expand our beta program, when we’ll end the beta and become generally available, and when we’ll offer more phones. The answers are: as soon as we can, when the product is ready and early 2012.
I look forward to continuing the dialog we’ve only just begun this week. Please comment below, or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.