How to organize a Product Hunt meetup in your city

Lessons from the inaugural Product Hunt meetup in Toronto


I don’t remember how I learned about Product Hunt, but I was hooked from the very first visit. Daily collection of best new tech products? Brilliant. Discovering new products and startups was already something I did frequently, so having an easier and a lot more fun way of doing it was exciting.

During Product Camp Toronto in July I held a ‘Product Hunt IRL’ session and discussed latest ‘hunts’ and product trends with a group of product managers. We wanted to continue the conversation and keep in touch. That’s when I started planning Product Hunt Toronto. What happened next involved a lot of to-do lists, e-mails and tweets. Many thanks to Ryan Hoover and Erik Torenberg for their incredible support from those early days and for cheering on Toronto.

If you’d like to host a Product Hunt meetup in your city, here are some notes and lessons learned from the inaugural Product Hunt Toronto event.


People

Great audience is critical for a successful event. Start off by inviting people in your network who are interested in new tech products. Many of these folks are product managers, developers, designers, founders and investors. They come from startups, digital agencies, enterprises, universities and VC firms. Since Product Hunters are a social bunch, Twitter is a great way to reach them. One technique I found useful is searching Twitter for Product Hunt mentions near you. This way you can find Product Hunt fans in your city. They are already familiar with the platform, advocate for it in some capacity and could help you organize and spread the word about the event.

Make sure to find and invite folks behind some of the local products on Product Hunt. Talk to Erik about creating a collection for your city like we did in Toronto.

Photo Credit: Pam Lau
Photo Credit: Pam Lau

Venue and Food

There are many advantages to hosting your event at a local startup office or incubator, but a regular bar or pub works as well. If your meetup includes product demos, certainly make sure to test equipment beforehand. One aspect I wish I considered is noise level at the venue. That’s why I am looking for a quieter venue for our next Toronto meetup.

Since most meetups happen after work, find a way to provide food at the event. Whether it is through a small cover charge or sponsorship, feed your guests (they’ll stay longer and leave happier).

Format and Demos

If you live in a city like Toronto, there are dozens of networking events on any given evening. In order to differentiate, I strongly recommend inviting speakers and including product demos. Invite product leaders for brief Q&A sessions. Ask them about product trends, favorite ‘hunts’ and what makes products great.

Product Hunt community lives and breathes product innovation, so inviting folks working on cool new products to demo them is fantastic. Suggest presenters include an ask for the audience whether it is product feedback, customer referral, introduction to partners, etc. Also, talk to presenters about offering special deals for event attendees. Thanks to Sidekick, Tab and Volley for their excellent presentations at our first meetup.

Technology

There are a lot of things to take care of and you are busy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you get started. I use Splashthat for event registration and general information, Trello for event planning and Clear for simple to-do lists. As your community grows, it might make more sense to move to Meetup.com and enjoy additional features that will make your life easier.

Marketing and Communications

Ask Ryan and Erik for official Product Hunt media assets and stickers. Appearance of Product Hunt Kitty on your event materials does wonders. Toronto folks – we will have stickers at the next event!

Create a hashtag your community can use on Twitter and Instagram. Remind about it during the event and encourage posts between demos.

Connect with incubators and accelerators in your city and ask them to feature your meetup in their newsletters. Find online communities for local startups and post event information there. For example, a lot of folks learned about our event through post on StartupNorth Facebook Group.

Old-fashioned word of mouth works. Mention Product Hunt at meetups, dinner parties and coffee shops. It makes a good conversation topic as I’ve been told ☺

Best of luck with your event and let me know if I can help.


Toronto Product Hunt community — you rock. Thanks for a great first event and look forward to many more to come. If you’d like to present at our next meetups, email me.

Photo credit: Pam Lau