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Startups, sunshine + launch learnings

4 minute read

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A big part of my role at Codebots is spreading the word by starting conversations with the humans that will most benefit from being part of our launch community. Building software can be a huge pain in the ar$e, and your chance of billion-dollar unicorn success is similar to your actual chances of seeing a mythical, one horned creature.

But what I’m noticing is a new breed of entrepreneur, let’s call them the Roos who are agile, quick, humble, and friendly enough to get products built and launched and are not afraid to bounce in a different direction when necessary. What better place to meet some of these ‘Roos’ than at the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast where kangaroos literally tenant the grassy space out front?


As part of the Advance Queensland #HotdesQ program, Adam Mills (Koalasafe), Eric Phu (Citizen Wolf), and Kevin Straszburger (Krak) took us on an anecdotal journey on “How To Launch a Product.”


Here are some of the #sketchnote nuggets I took out of the talk because if I don’t draw it, I don’t remember it!


Adam went through the StartMate accelerator program and talked about his successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $100k when 4 similar products failed. Koalasafe is software + hardware that helps parents manage their kid’s screen times.

He puts their success down to picking a desperate niche and hammering the message home

Minecraft was ruining the lives of many-a-parent as their zombie kids couldn’t be pulled away from the world they were building. Rather than having a generic, all-encompassing value proposition, they poked the parents where it hurt. Genius!


Eric Phu has a made-to-order t-shirt business called Citizen Wolf, and among the many lessons he shared (never launch the week before Christmas!), the one thing that stood out to me was to not be afraid of constantly relaunching your product. You can’t really know your market until you’ve launched. Originally, they were targeting only men but found that women were the ones with the bigger problem when it came to “perfect fit” and were willing to spend $ to solve it.


Eric also had some interesting experiences when it came to pricing. Their shirt cost $49 which is on the higher end of the tee scale.

When they raised the price to $89 it also raised the perception of quality and sales increased

Then when they added a $129 merino wool tee to the range sales increased again and didn’t cannibalise their $89 product. Their message and brand matched the price point which is really important for a startup.


My favourite piece of advice was from Kevin who creates products for skaters. Krak has an app that crowdsources the best locations for skating in a city, and they have monthly skater subscription boxes that are full of goodies that make their members feel like “pros.”

The community is at the heart of their business. Kevin couldn’t stress enough how important the first 100 advocates of your brand are and how much time it takes to build those relationships. Not to mention, a truckload of patience because trust is not a speed game.

If you can harness your company passion, teaming it with an offering your audience craves and can nail your key metric of retention, you can launch off the back of community, not press coverage

He also talked about the opportunity to turn complaining customers into brand advocates by offering incredible support. If they care enough to complain, there is passion there. You just need to treat them like you really care and help right the wrong that they feel has been done.


Josh from Wazlo, an Artificial Intelligence startup focusing on making the hiring process smarter and more efficient in the AG tech space, offered another perspective. His thoughts centred around giving your product to your customers as soon as you can, as it’s the quickest way to find out when your assumptions are wrong.

Launch Learnings Recap

  1. Focus on a niche of customers that have a big, festering pain-point.

    Make sure your messaging matches your pricing. It doesn’t have to be a race to the bottom.

    Passion-led businesses have the power to launch on the back of community, not press coverage.

    The world is big! Don’t be afraid of constantly relaunching your product.

Many thanks to Mel, Julie, Mark and Lynn at the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast and Advance Queensland for putting on such a quality event that amplified the Launch Learnings of some incredible entrepreneurs.

If you’re interested in less time coding, more time creating then sign up for a free trial now.

Last updated: 21 October 2019

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