Definition of Stealth Mode
Stealth mode is a way of operating a startup in which the goal is to maintain secrecy and to avoid letting other people know what it is that you’re working on.
There are a number of reasons why a startup might want to operate in stealth mode, with the most common being that a start-up doesn’t want its competitors to know that they’re getting ready to launch. This allows them to enter the market with a bang and to be as disruptive as possible.
When a startup is in stealth mode, it will often use code names to refer to its products or services. If it has a website, it will rarely list product information, employees or the location in which it’s based. It will occasionally even use a temporary name that’s designed to be as generic as possible so that it doesn’t provide any details about its industry.
Startups in stealth mode will often ask employees to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). They’ll rarely speak to the media and will typically avoid maintaining a social media presence.
While stealth mode is most commonly thought of as something that new startups do before they enter the market, it can also be used by established companies to ensure that a new product launch is kept as secret as possible.
For example, Apple might use stealth mode to maintain secrecy ahead of a new iPhone model. Microsoft has a long history of using code names for its various operating systems so that it can maintain secrecy as much as possible until it’s ready to launch to the public.
However, there can also be downsides to working in stealth mode. It makes it more difficult for companies to reach their audience and slows down the amount of time they’re able to spend on marketing and promotion, especially on the run up to release.
Stealth mode also limits the amount of feedback that you’re able to receive, particularly when compared to other go-to market strategies such as releasing a minimum viable product (MVP) or encouraging people to test a beta version of the software before its launch.
Why do startups use stealth mode?
The obvious answer to this is that startups use stealth mode when they want to keep things secret and avoid publicity ahead of a new product or service launch. Their reasons for keeping things secret may vary, but it’s often because they don’t want to alert their competitors about what they’re working on.
This may also be because the company is unable to protect its new intellectual property or it’s on the cusp of a major innovation. Maintaining stealth mode can ensure that when they go to market, they have an advantage over the competition until they’re able to catch up.