I don't quite understand why this idea keeps cropping up lately, even from reputable sources. For example, this one is from Seth Sternberg, the CEO and cofounder of Meebo - so he's hardly a nobody or a slouch. And yet, what to make of this:
For most consumer internet products, there’s not a whole lot the business person can really do pre-launch. All of the company’s value will come when the team builds and launches a product, so that should be the primary focus. There aren’t any partnerships to be struck yet, as the product has yet to build any credibility in the market. There aren’t any folks to interview, as you can’t afford to hire a full team, and you’re wasting your time looking for pre-launch financing—a controversial statement these days, I know, but that’s a topic for another post.
The funny thing is, he answers that in the same article, as things to do "2-3 weeks before launch" - all those things can be done long before launch:
- Get incorporated (how does that need to wait until launch?).
- Figure out the launch strategy (I sure hope that's being done earlier than a month before launch!).
- Find good mentors.
Here are a few other things to do if you're the business guy on a pre-launch startup:
- Study and talk with the competition.
- Figure out which metrics will be key to measure, and how to use them.
- Try to figure out ways the scope of the initial product can be reduced.
- Generate traffic to capture initial emails, get leads (yes, B2C as well!).
- Hustle some seed money.
- Become an online influencer in your target niche, build a soapbox.
- If you have to be taking care of the food, screw expensive, mayonnaise-filled sandwiches: cook cheap and healthy food.
- Call people and test the idea.
- Learn to code!.
And that's just looking through the articles in the Founder's Library.
The truth is, if you followed some kind of discipline like Hypothesis Driven Development to map out the unknowns ahead of you, you should have plenty to do before even starting to code, let alone while the coding is going on.