Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

Stealth Mode – A Silent Way For A Startup To Die

During one of the recent events I attended, I spoke to this guy working in a new local startup who proudly declared, “We’re in stealth mode.”

Stealth mode. Wow I don’t really know that means, but doesn’t that sound cool?

When I asked him in greater detail about why his venture was in ‘stealth mode’ he couldn’t answer me. “I can’t tell you what we do, our web service is in a really competitive space,” he explains.

If you’re such competitive a space you’re screwed already, bro. And if you don’t have an answer, I can think of a few:

1. You don’t have a clue what you’re doing.

2. You have a vague idea which you don’t know how to articulate anyway.

3. You probably don’t have an investor and are embarrassed. Heck, you probably don’t even have a target market. names a few real reasons why startups won’t talk. On the other hand, David Beisel argues that there are legitimate reasons for startups to remain covert.

Mark Fletcher of Bloglines pointed out in 2005 that he believes stealth mode for web startups is the kiss of death. He says three months is all a startup should stay in stealth mode while it works out the kinks before its beta launch. I agree with his assessment.

It’s probably more advisable to get your product out quickly, and test it often with your users. Otherwise your ‘stealthed’ startup may just die silently in its infancy.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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