Alex Makarski: Business Strategist, Growth Hacker & Traffic Expert
003: Launch Tomorrow – Luke Szyrmer
In this episode, I am sitting down with Luke Szyrmer, an experienced product manager from London, to discuss his new book, Launch Tomorrow. Alex Makarski: Hello and welcome. This is Alex Makarski with another episode of StartupGizmo. And today, I have with me Luke Szyrmer hanging out with me from London on the opposite end of the pond, but he’s sporting a nice shirt that says University of Pennsylvania, I take it. So I guess there’s a story coming up. Luke is a sought after authority in all things lean and startup and is the one who runs Lean Coffee events in London. And he is an author of Launch Tomorrow, the book on launching a startup, a tech startup, I presume, that hit number one on Amazon in its category recently. So, congratulations on the book, Luke, and welcome to the show. Luke Szyrmer: Thanks, Alex. Yeah, it’s great to catch up with you. Alex Makarski: Awesome. So what’s up with this Pennsylvania theme going on here? Luke Szyrmer: Well, I grew up in the area. But I went there a while ago and graduated. And it was a good time and it taught me quite a lot, did economics there a long time ago. But somehow I got into IT and it stuck on me for 20 years or more at this point in various forms. Alex Makarski: Right. So what led you to writing a book? Luke Szyrmer: So the main reason is that I, at some point, tried to create a product that I thought would be relevant for hedge funds here in London. It was about the time YouTube was becoming a thing and it was a video website, and aimed specifically at that vertical, which at the time I thought was a great idea and I put a lot of heart and soul and savings into it. And after basically launching it, it turned out that they weren’t really all that interested and it didn’t resonate with them pretty much at all. And I realized that even though I, from a technical standpoint, had something that was working, that clearly wasn’t enough that I very much had a marketing problem. And at some point, about two or three years later, I discovered the work of Eric Ries – The Lean Startup – and one of the things that he advocates there is going out and speaking with customers, interacting with them long before you even started building some sort of product just to be able to really understand who it is that you’re creating something for. And over time, the part that I found the most interesting was something that he briefly described in The Lean Startup over a couple of pages, it’s using a landing page to test out a product idea. So, it’s kind of like a smoke test. Originally, the term “smoke test” comes from electrical engineering. So basically, if you plug it in, does smoke come out of it? So, here, it’s a slightly different connotation. So, basically, it’s just a quick test to make sure that if you are going to go in a certain direction, from a marketing point of view, there is actually somebody who’s there, who’s waiting for that product to be made. Alex Makarski: If it’s even worth putting any more effort into it. Luke Szyrmer: Exactly. Exactly, that’s the whole point. And it’s a slightly different way of approaching the whole topic than, on one hand, customer development, which I just mentioned because there you’re trying to get lots of information and speak with lots of people. And it’s also a different kind of conversion rate optimization where you already have something that you’re selling and you just want to be able to sell better. And that mentality, that framework, other than that sliver within The Lean Startup and occasionally mentioned here and there, nobody is really covering it, and I realize that it’s something worth testing on its own. So what I did was I went to cycle Leanpub which essentially led me start writing a book, basically describe a book, without necessarily having it done yet and to see if people would start buying. And lo and behold, people did start paying me even though it wasn't done.