Over the years, the world of startups has become fiercely competitive with people fighting for every last ounce of funding they can get. But with ideas in abundance, the failure rate for startups to has risen significantly with several enthusiastic and inspired entrepreneurs getting the short end of the stick.
With governments becoming more welcoming to startups, young minds have slowly started to come up with their unique set of products, services, and new ideas for startups. However, not everyone can find the desired response ultimately leading them to drop out of the race against their wish.
Despite the immensely high competitive market, people have found a way to work around this competition, protect their products and ideas, and set their own pace for the development of their startups.
To achieve their dreams of having their startup, people are now starting to launch their startups in absolute secrecy for a short period. This temporary state of secrecy in a startup is what the 21st generation refers to as stealth mode.
As the name suggests, activating stealth mode allows entrepreneurs to set the tone and pace for development and keeps their products away from the spotlight before the company goes public.
So, what exactly is a stealth mode startup? How does it work? What are the pros and cons associated with it? Let’s find out.
What Is a Stealth Mode Startup?
Despite being one of the most widely used techniques, stealth mode startups do not get discussed enough. But that is precisely what this type of startup aims for. Whether you’re a venture capitalist, investor, or aspiring entrepreneur, knowing what a stealth mode startup is and how it functions is key.
Judging by the name, many tend to assume that a stealth mode startup is built with a sense of privacy. However, there is more to a stealth mode startup than just privacy. A stealth mode startup refers to a startup that aims at keeping its true agenda hidden at all times before going public.
For this, the startup resorts to several legal means to keep its product, service, or idea under wraps. Therefore, a stealth mode startup avoids the public startup by hiding every last piece of information about itself. Apart from a general description, there is nothing more available to the public.
Why Do People Opt for a Stealth Mode Startup?
A stealth-mode startup remains in absolute secrecy until it’s ready to go public. This startup mode is widely used primarily by inexperienced entrepreneurs or those that have developed a sense of paranoia about their product information getting leaked.
Apart from startups, several major companies such as Apple, Uber, Google, and so on undergo a stealth mode every time there is a big product under development. Entrepreneurs believe that their products can impact the market significantly.
Therefore, such people prefer to opt for a stealth mode startup. This gives them enough time to test their product without worrying about anyone finding out about it. Moreover, stealth-mode startups have control over the media narrative.
This helps build more focus on product development and get it ready for the public without any worry of speculations or negative feedback hampering product development. Finally, stealth mode startups have the potential to come out all guns blazing and get all the public attention to themselves upon launch.
All this allows a stealth-mode startup to gain an advantage over an overly competitive market and set its own pace for its product’s market development. Therefore, launching a stealth mode startup will allow you to get effective feedback on the following:
- Early Concepts And Ideas Of Development
- Target Audience
- Market Segment And Product’s Market Fit
- User Persona
- Product Pricing
- Product Placement
- Product Positioning
Types of Stealth Mode Startups
There are two different types of stealth-mode startups. Based on a company’s needs, requirements, and urgency, it may choose to opt for either one. Before we get to discuss the benefits and limitations of a stealth mode startup, it is key to know the two types of stealth mode startups.
Total Stealth Mode
As the name suggests, total stealth mode refers to the state in which a new company operates in absolute secrecy until it’s time to launch. The majority of the newer companies or organizations go the extra mile during total stealth mode by having zero web presence or a public profile.
Moreover, startups launched in stealth mode often tend to control the media narrative by simply avoiding the public spotlight and completely refraining from making any public announcements about their products and services.
By undergoing total stealth mode, a company keeps everything secret from the product description and other key pieces of information. Several startups in stealth mode are known to operate using aliases so that the line of business would remain under wraps.
In-company Stealth Mode
An in-company stealth mode is somewhat similar to total stealth barring a few exceptions. A company undergoes an in-company stealth mode when it is developing a new project, service, product, or idea that needs to be kept out of the public eye along with the investors and shareholders.
Although it may appear deceiving at first, it is a technique used widely by all major and minor organizations alike. There are several motives as to why a company undergoes an in-company stealth mode.
The primary intent is to keep all new ideas to be dismissed prematurely. As a result, companies often resort to using codenames for new endeavors to hide the true purpose of the product. This technique is primitively associated with major multinationals such as Tesla, Uber, Apple, Google, etc.
Given the immense amount of money that goes into it, these big companies cannot afford leaks at any given point in time. As a result, the employees working on such secret initiatives are legally binding to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect the property and keep the product under wraps at all times.
Stealth Mode Startup: Benefits
Over the years, the corporate world has taught us that not everyone can be trusted. And now, we have finally reached a point where no one can be trusted. Similar to real-life situations, firms prefer to keep their core values and purpose under wraps until the right time.
While this may bring along a few difficulties, it does have certain benefits attached to it which is precisely the majority of startups prefer entering stealth mode. So, what are these pros we keep referring to? Let’s find out.
Little to No Early Public Attention
As we mentioned earlier, a stealth-mode startup aims at keeping the company out of the spotlight until it decides to go public. Several newly launched startups tend to encounter several issues early on. This can negatively portray them.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen, people launch a stealth mode startup so that the developers can hide their new product to avoid issues and work out the issues if any before the product is made available to the public.
Catch The Competitors By Surprise
A stealth mode startup often aims at going public at the last possible minute. And once it does, it catches the competitors by surprise, giving them little to no time to react. This period helps a stealth-mode startup set a firm foot in the industry and gain a foothold over the audience.
With the competitors surprised, the time allows the stealth mode startup to secure more funding to aid its development.
Before a company can go public, it has to ensure that everything is in order from a legal standpoint. Right from their product to their registered trademark, everything needs to be on the books. Even if the product is ready for launch, at times the product could be far from ready.
This is where stealth mode comes in. When in stealth mode, you can secure your intellectual property from a legal point of view. This gives your startup enough time to cater to your product and ensure it hits the ground running right away.
Control Over Product Development And the Market pace
One of the greatest competitive advantages of launching a startup in stealth mode is that you have absolute control over the market pace. With control over the marketplace, you can allot additional valuable time toward your product’s development.
Stealth Mode Startup: Limitations
Without any limitations, a stealth mode startup is nothing but a startup that follows the standard operating procedure. Although there are a few pros associated with launching a stealth mode startup, there also are a few limitations one must be aware of.
Limited Funding Opportunities
Stealth mode startup gives you enough time to get your product ready for launch and work on the documentation. However, securing funding is the biggest challenge when launching a stealth-mode startup. This is because, in a stealth mode startup, your product is kept under wraps.
Since your product is under wraps, you lose a key chunk of the investor market. Simultaneously, you tend to miss out on several venture funding opportunities. This pushes an entrepreneur to arrange private meetings and seek funding in absolute secrecy.
Minimal Customer Feedback
Not only are your funding opportunities limited, but so is your customer feedback. With the product under cover, your business cannot interact with the customers thus keeping you from accessing key information such as customer feedback, reviews, and opinions.
Little To No Public Attention
In its initial stages, every business tries to get as much publicity as it can. However, in a stealth mode startup, there is no free publicity present. When in stealth mode, startups generally invest a huge chunk of money towards making a big reveal or similar launch campaign. Until then, it continues to evade the public eye.
Despite the number of advantages associated with stealth-mode startups, they too have their share of risks. At the same time, a stealth-mode startup could be a valuable diamond that investors often look for when exploring unique investment opportunities.
Just like every other business, launching a stealth-mode startup needs hard work, vision, and like-minded investors that are experienced and insightful about such independent ventures. Every entrepreneur starts a startup to create a significant impact on a highly competitive market.
This vision, backed by hard work, grit, initiative, and intuition makes a stealth-mode startup worth the additional risks. Keeping your product under wraps needs a whole lot more than just personal restraints. However, when in the long run, this strategy can yield rewards you wouldn’t have anticipated.
It isn’t always possible to avoid situations that tempt you to get early momentum in the market. But when in stealth mode, the key is to not succumb to these temptations. Ignoring the temptations will allow you to focus more on your product leading to the development of a world-class service.
Why would a startup choose to be in stealth mode?
The most important factor in choosing a stealth mode of business is to protect a new product, especially in the burgeoning stage of the product.
Which type of startup chooses to be in stealth mode?
Companies that deal in a competitive market or in IT software development are more prone to choose Stealth mode. For example, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.