Three tips on releasing a product, inspired by Clinkle’s “launch” » SMEInsider

Three tips on releasing a product, inspired by Clinkle’s “launch”

Clinkle has finally launched its payments app. After a $25 million funding round in June last year, Clinkle watched the mobile payments market fill with competitors before launching a product that does not live up to expectations. We point out three important aspects of a successful product launch.

1. Deliver on your promises…

“Our goal is to completely modernize how payments work,” the app’s founder, Lucas Duplan, told Business Insider last year. “What we’re trying to do is basically take your phone and have it for the first time be able to rival cash and credit cards. We’ve developed a way for consumers to download an app, no hardware needed, and achieve scale from a software point of view.”

Clinkle was thought to be developing a prototype application that used high-frequency sound waves to transfer payment signals between mobile devices and merchant terminals. What it actually created is an app linked to a prepaid card, which you can load and reload with money. After swiping the card for a purchase seven times, you can earn ‘Treats’, which can be sent to friends. Friends then have to make a purchase using the card in order to access the treat, which is then ‘spun’, possibly paying for their purchase or allowing them to get something for free, like Baskin-Robbins ice cream. The app can also be used to send money to friends, like Venmo and Paypal.

So instead of replacing cards, Clinkle gives you an extra one.

2. … in a timely manner

As time has gone on, Square Cash and Coin launched, PayPal acquired Braintree and its product Venmo, and Google Wallet has had more time to mature. Finally, Apple stepped into the mobile payments fray, which may have prompted Clinkle’s rushed ‘release’.

If Clinkle had led the mobile payments charge as promised, the concept of ‘Treats’ might be an incentive to keep people using the card once they had it. But now they are presented with so many alternatives, American college students – the app’s primary market – may turn towards a cardless solution, or keep using a bank card they are already familiar with.

3. Be prepared

Today, Clinkle accidentally ‘launched’ its product after Silicon Valley magazines discovered its updated website just after it went live. Clinkle say there are still a few kinks to be ironed out when explaining the service, which is currently only available on a few college campuses in the US.

For example, while there are no fees to use treats, load your card or send money from your bank account to a friend, Clinkle is not an entirely fee-free service. The fees are  explained in a lengthy cardholder agreement, which made it hard to tell if you’ll be charged for sending money to friends via credit card or debit card. Another larger fee is the $20 “account liquidation” fee.

So without a ‘proper’ launch, Clinkle has suffered the derision of the tech community, having endured a talent exodus, layoffs and product delays to get here. With a lack of preparation, the differences between the existing Clinkle app and the expected product are made even more apparent.

Time will tell whether this bungled launch will harm Clinkle’s chances.