Sixty Seconds Can Change Everything

It goes without saying that when you’re a startup founder, you think about your business every waking minute. This was the case when I was getting ready for bed on Saturday, August 1st. Fortunately, this was one of the good nights: when my reflections and thoughts weren’t about running out of money, operations, or hiring. Rather, I was happy that we had hit our downloads target on our open beta and that we were exceeding our daily active installation target two-fold. I made plans to go to the beach with my girlfriend the next day and have a picnic — to get away from the company for a few hours and enjoy California.

As I would soon learn, Sunday the 2nd would be much different. I woke up around 7 AM to this:

The last e-mail you see before your Sunday beach plans are obliterated.

In the sixty seconds it took me to read this e-mail, I knew that everything was about to change.

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First, a quick aside about what we do: benjamin is a deals app that doesn’t waste your time. We offer personalized deals that users love, and sixty seconds to buy or pass in a fun and engaging app. Some call us the Tinder of deals.

What we do

What makes us different is that we work with brands that other deals sites don’t. This is largely because we use a different model — we threw away the 20–60% commission that others use in favor of a CPM model (pay per targeted impression). This maintains vendor margins, is fueled by our user experience, and has resonated with vendors. We’ve got some cool stuff on the platform and I’m thrilled to be working with brands like North Face, Under Armour, and the NFL.

We launched our beta in mid-June with the goal of doing a public launch in the fall. We wanted to have about 1,000 daily active installations by September with an eye on 5,000 by the end of the year.

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On Sunday:

  • We saw 4,000 active installations, nearly 7x our previous daily high, and 80% of our year-end average daily active installations goal.
  • We sold more product in one day than we had for the six weeks we had been available to the public — combined.
  • I received significant inbound interest from VC firms, angels, and accelerator programs.

On Monday:

  • Several dozen knock-off Product Hunt sites and blogs put us up on their blogs and sites. People downloaded our app.
  • I received even more inbound interest from VC firms, angels, and accelerator programs.

On Tuesday:

  • Growth slowed to a more regular rate.
  • I received no new inbound interest from VC firms, angels, or accelerator programs.

Two weeks later:

  • We’ve been averaging more than 8,000 daily active installations, 160% of our year-end goal.
  • In step with our user growth being ahead of schedule, our next round of financing is ahead of schedule. We’ll close our next round shortly. We originally thought this might happen in spring 2016.

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A few takeaways:

  • It turns out that there’s a high K-factor with the Product Hunt community. According to our metrics, our recent move from 4,000 to 8,000 daily active installations was largely driven by organic word of mouth love by our users. This has held strong.
  • The focus and attention is fleeting. Make the most of your time in the spotlight. Book hard times with those interested investors. People were so excited to hear “we’re on Product Hunt today” and “we were on Product Hunt yesterday.” “We were on Product Hunt sixteen days ago” doesn’t grab attention the same way.
  • It feels like half of the Product Hunt community is based in Silicon Valley while the rest is international. This was interesting to us for two reasons:
    1) Although we’re now based in Silicon Valley, we previously spent time in Las Vegas, Boston, and St. Louis. Our California network is shallow. This was a great foot in the door and introduction to many new people in northern California.
    2) We don’t have an international product and, admittedly, we hadn’t focused much energy on the international market. We received a notable amount of interest from people who couldn’t buy anything from us — a missed opportunity.
  • This whole experience has been a ton of fun.

If you’re interested in hearing more about this experience or learning about benjamin, let’s talk.

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