Private beta or no private beta, how do you decide?

I'm building a pretty simple app for people to keep track of their budgets and finances. I don't necessarily think a private beta is necessary, but I think that little bit of exclusivity might bring more signups and generate more interest than just a standard launch.


Good chance is that the first 5 people will uncover most of the issues and things you've missed, so having others repeating the same things and you taking the time to sift through support and replies is a waste of time.

Private beta for a short amount of time before you fix/improve the first round of things, then launch publicly.

The "private beta to generate more interest" thing is very product-dependent:
1) Do users have the ability to generate content? Are you trying to establish a certain expectation of quality?
2) Are you still in discovery phase/still trying to find the customer or use case?
3) Would your servers crash if 10,000 people suddenly got on it?
4) Do you need to test bugs in a production environment?

If you don't really need to run a private beta, don't bother, because there's no better way to get more people using it than making it publicly available to everyone. What may work better for your app is an invite system, every new user gets 10 invites to share with friends. Give em a bonus for sharing, feature unlocks or just a nice animation.

99% of the work getting people on comes after launch: promote the app via social media, create videos, buy ads, tell people about it in person, get press, write your own press, email out a newsletter, etc.