That Time When Ashton Kutcher Hunted Neighborly to Product Hunt

This is our story; these are our metrics.

Exactly a month ago (June 24), Ashton Kutcher hunted Neighborly on Product Hunt. Our team at Neighborly loves data so we took special care to track our metrics, funnel, and conversion rate(s). As a growth marketer, I live and die by my numbers and thought you too would enjoy learning about our data. Keep reading...

About Neighborly

To understand our KPIs, you need to understand what Neighborly does. We are a community investment marketplace. Every day, cities and states across the US borrow over $1 billion to fund civic projects like schools, parks, roads, and more. Seriously, that’s worth repeating: our local governments borrow over $400 billion each year to build cool stuff for our cities 🌆.

Turns out, this market is broken and needs to be fixed. For example, when was the last time you invested in a local city project? Likely never. Surely your city has built a public building, park, or school and needed to raise money for it — shouldn’t you and your neighbors have had a chance to invest?

And that’s exactly what we do —

Neighborly makes it easy for you to invest in the places you live, work, and play… in the places you love the most.

We do this through a safe and secure financial instrument called municipal bonds. Sounds fancy but after you learn that muni bonds built our great nation — e.g. Golden Gate Bridge, Erie Canal, etc. — it’s hard to ignore the power of these bonds.

Our Goal

Our company-wide KPI — our One Metric That Matters (OMTM) — is number of investments sold (number of muni bonds sold). The corollary metric is total investment amount, in dollars. Thus, we care about both velocity and volume of investments sold on our platform.

But we are pre-launch. Our first public investment opportunity will be available in Q4. I wish I had the time to explain the onerous process and number of regulatory hoops we must jump through in order to launch this product. You would be amazed.

That said, we wanted to get people excited about Neighborly. We wanted them to get pumped about investing in their community.

More importantly, we wanted to better understand what type of community investments people want. Do they care more about educational investments or green investments? Do they want to invest $500 or $5,000? Where do they live — on the coasts or in the middle?

Equally important, we need to prioritize investors because sometimes supply is limited. We need to know who is serious about investing and who is just curious.

Thus, for pre-launch, our main focus and OMTM is qualification forms completed. These forms help us understand what our users want as well as provide early access to users that are the most enthusiastic about the investment opportunity.

Our Funnel

Awesome funnel graphic designed by our very own @snconnolly

To achieve these goals, we designed a funnel. Each step of the way we asked the website visitor (we call them our “Neighbor” or “Neighbors”) more information to judge their general interest. In return, we would give each person priority access in our upcoming investment opportunities.

At the top of our funnel, we collect an email address on our homepage. Nothing out of the ordinary:

Next, we ask the Neighbor to create an account. The logic here is that we will eventually need them to create an account to make an investment so we might as well learn now who is serious enough to at least create a free account:

Once they’ve created an account, we gave them an option to skip the line for future investments via our qualification form. Anyone who completes this form gets first bite of the apple once we launch. Here is a partial screenshot of our pre-qualifying form:

Shout out to @gustavoguichard who built this awesome qualification form using react JS.

Finally, when they complete the form, we show them a preview of other sample deals of what they can expect once we launch:

The Product Hunt Bump

This is when we began to ask ourselves, where is the best place to gather feedback about our product and attract early adopters into our funnel? Almost as soon as we asked ourselves, we answered our own question — Product Hunt! Of course. Not only would it help us find early adopters and gather feedback about our product, we would gain additional exposure to achieve our KPIs.

There are a number of factors that determine your success (rankings) on Product Hunt. I’ve bucketed these into two groups: external and internal.

External Factors:

  • who posted your product
  • day and time of posting
  • type of product (dev tool, product for startups, fintech startup, etc)

Internal Factors:

  • number of upvotes (duh) 🔼
  • velocity of upvotes (how quickly you collect upvotes)
  • source of upvotes (how did people find your product on PH)
  • number of comments

The above factors are split into those you can control (external) and those you should not try to control (internal). If you try to manipulate the internal factors, you could face the wrath of the PH algorithm and get pushed to the bottom.

The external factors on the other hand are completely within your control. Do your best to control who posts your product and when.

So. Freaking. Cool.

Using this logic, we started brainstorming who would make for a great hunter of Neighborly. Like all good ideas, it came to me while hiking — Ashton Kutcher! He is super passionate about what Neighborly is doing and he recently made an investment through his VC firm, Sound Ventures.

Our first step was to meet with him and see if he was up for hunting Neighborly. Ashton has never hunted a product before and his time is super valuable. We flew to LA to meet with him and his team. After confirming details and logistics, he agreed to hunt Neighborly.

Next we had to get the Product Hunt team onboard. Of course Ashton could post the product whenever he wanted but it’s much easier to have the PH team’s blessing. I emailed the team and told them of our plans. They gave us the thumbs up 👍 and we started hacking away on our product.

Pro Tip: If you want to launch your startup on Product Hunt and willing to offer an exclusive discount or deal to the community, email the team ahead of time to coordinate your posting. They are very welcoming and open to submissions from founders. If you’d like more specific advice on how to rock your Product Hunt launch, ping me on twitter for additional tips.

Our Numbers Behind the Hunt

The moment you’ve been waiting for… I’ll walk you through the numbers in the same fashion as we designed our funnel — starting with Product Hunt activity, and ending with our main KPI: qualification forms submitted.

Follow the rising star ⭐
We ended the day well: a total of 580 upvotes and 45 comments.

Frankly, the comments were even more valuable to us than the upvotes. Such great feedback, especially this one:

Our visionary CEO @jase responding to feedback from the community

First step in our funnel are unique visitors. These are all the people that clicked through to our website. That’s over 8,100 people!

We also tracked how many people signed up on our homepage (over 1,000!):

As well as how many Neighbors went on to create an account (866 to be exact):

If our Neighbor is still with us at this point, we give them the option to receive priority access on our upcoming investment opportunity. This is our main KPI for launch. My focus was to increase this number as well as improve the quality of the responses. In total, we received 456 priority applications.

Overall, that’s a 5.6% conversion rate from the homepage visitor to completed forms. At first blush that might seem low but after reviewing the amount of time one must take to complete the entire process, coupled with the fact that most visitors are new and this is their first exposure to Neighborly, I am happy with the result. We are continually updating our funnel and making optimizations in order to increase our waiting list and find out what investment opportunities our Neighbors want the most.

Post-Launch Assessment & Advice

When I reflect on that chaotic 48 hour during and after launch, I realized that the process of launching on Product Hunt was a truly awesome experience for Neighborly. We received an enormous amount of feedback from the community as well as from our new Neighbors.

The biggest lesson we learned throughout this entire process is the importance of creating deadlines for your team.

By having lines in the sand (and informing third parties of those lines), your entire team will come together as a cohesive group to make magic happen. Sure, there were a handful of features we didn’t get to implement but we worked faster and more efficient than we ever had. It also brought us closer as a team.

Pro Tip: Many people will ask how to proceed if they don’t have Ashton Kutcher hunting them. Frankly, the best advice I can give is to read The Product Hunt Manual by Kiki Schirr and The Product Hunt Handbook by Justin Jackson. I purchased, read, and took notes on both of these ebooks and it helped me make the best of our hunt. I’ve also used these to hunt other products. They are invaluable resources.

Overall, we are happy with the metrics above and we are more focused than ever to launch our first investment opportunity. If you haven’t already please sign up for Neighborly today to learn about our upcoming launch.

If you enjoyed this post, my beloved cat and I would be very happy if you recommend this story (below) or drop me a note on twitter @benhoffman_.