Product Hunt. It seems out of nowhere it has become the go to website for startup companies to launch their new products or businesses.
It reminds me a lot of how TechCrunch felt in 2006. It was the place that every startup knew they HAD TO be in order to attract initial users and also gain the attention of venture capitalists. I strong showing on TechCrunch created initial product demand and if you could sustain that it led to buzz overall in the tech community. Companies like Twitter were really cultivated by the TechCrunch enthusiast crowd long before celebs, comedians and politicians were on Twitter.
And if you need the parallel look no further than Meerkat whose success was highly correlated with its popularity in the Product Hunt community and it leveraged the tech industry buzz around the product into more meaningful usage by people like Jimmy Fallon or U2.
So I set out to understand this phenomenon a bit more deeply. I started by launching a portfolio company’s product on Product Hunt. Ferris did normal press and also launched on Product Hunt and the latter drove significantly more downloads than press did. I think in part because the community of super-passionate early adopters is spending time on Product Hunt whereas websites like TechCrunch or Business Insider have gone more mainstream.
Another highly important factor in the success of Product Hunt is the community itself. Much like websites including Reddit, HackerNews or even Twitter, websites that form strong communities become as much about the interactions on the website as they do about the actual content of the product itself. Your participation in the community defines you and long-term relationships are built. What is very unique to me about the Product Hunt community is the positivity they’ve engendered vs. the cesspool of vitriol that one can find on HackerNews or was clearly on Secret. In my personal opinion one of the ways that websites maintain positivity is through real IDs vs. hiding behind anonymity.
The other notable think about Product Hunt is just how universally liked the founder & CEO Ryan Hoover is. I’ve feel like I’ve “known” Ryan for years but I only actually met him in person last week! He’s been great at fostering online relationships through blogs and social media for years. I began following him when I realized he was in product at Play Haven, who operated in a space that interested me. I often try to follow product people at interesting companies who engage in social media.
So I sat down with Ryan to ask him directly about his phenomenal success as a 27-year-old product-manager-turned-CEO and you can watch the entire interview on my YouTube Channel here or of course you can also listen on SoundCloud on your next commute here.
He also spoke about “what’s next” at Product Hunt (in this case, launching Product Hunt Games) and since we weren’t publishing the video interview right away I agreed to hold this post until after his actual launch. I think you’ll really enjoy the interview and learn a lot from Ryan. But I know many are pressed for time, so ….
If you just want a quick taste here are some key moments:
1. Ryan talked about his transition from product manager to CEO and offers advice [1 minute].
2. Ryan offers advice for people who want to get into product management but don’t have a PM background [90 seconds]
3. Tips on how Product Hunt built a strong community and maintains positivity [3 minutes, 30 seconds]
4. What actually works on Product Hunt? [1 minute]
5. What were the early days of Product Hunt like? [90 seconds]
(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)