Recently, an entreprenuer e-mailed us with an pretty good beta version of his site on a development server. I asked him why he didn't just release it and see what people did with it.
He was waiting to hear back from TechCrunch to get it reviewed and then launch it.
Here's what I wrote back:
"TechCrunch is the hottest girl in the class in junior high. You felt compelled to ask her out because it was widely accepted that she was the most desireable date. That says nothing about whether or not the two of you would make a good match. Find the right girl not the hot girl. I'd say to hit up [Meetup groups of people into the kind of activity relevent to your site]...if you can't gain traction with them first then no amount of techcrunch buzz will help. (might even be distracting noise)..."
Josh Kopelman seems to be echoing these sentiments. Too many people are focused on building things for a really small audience, and in this case, perhaps not even the most relevent audience.
I would imagine that Mike Arrington would probably agree... that you don't build for TechCrunch or wait for TechCrunch... you go out and try to build the best service that could gain wide adoption with a large audience... and he'll provide some smart insight and feedback, and spotlight when people are doing something really right or really wrong.
And that goes for DEMO, the Wall Street Journal, or any other site. Its cool to have a big press "launch", but don't actually wait to release something just to time it with a big PR splash. Just get it out there!
So when it comes down to it, I really had no business trying to ask Dawn out on the 5th grade, but I understood why I did it. Prettiest girl in the class... you feel compelled to take a shot because you think that's going to make life wonderful... and that might get you 10,000 users if you get 20% penetration (with Techcrunch, not with the date... get your mind out of the gutter), but then what?