0–10,000 users 🚀: How Openvid launched on Product Hunt

Openvid’s launch on Product Hunt racked up almost 1,700 up-votes and helped us jump from 0 to 10,000+ users over the span of 3 short months. A lot of this success was luck and some of it was calculated. I’m hoping that by presenting what we learned here you’ll be better prepared for your own launch!


Before the Launch ⌛

In a sleep-deprived haze, Joe, Shahed and I were standing around our kitchen table discussing the various things that needed to get finished before we could launch our video recording tool on Product Hunt. We weren’t comfortable launching the product until we had done at least a minimal amount of user testing outside the three of us.

Even though we had planned to launch the product before Joe left for his friend’s wedding, we simply needed to make sure people could use it with relative ease. Launching this was a fairly big shift from our main focus as a company, which was centered around video user feedback (InVision’s blog about our crazy pivots).

“Well let’s at least wait until Friday morning. That gives us a couple days to bug strangers at coffee shops and iron out some of the kinks. We can launch without you Joe — don’t worry it shouldn’t be too much to handle.”

It shouldn’t be too much to handle ~ Famous Last Words from Vinay Hiremath

Launch Action Items 📋

Number of user signups before and after our launch. Guess which day our Product Hunt launch was. :-)

1) Test your Product with Real People 👥

From the cliché coffee shop user testing method––we discovered so many usability issues that, to this day, I have nightmares of how our launch would have ended up had we not done any.

As Steve Jobs says, simple can be harder than complex. Our Chrome extension had such a lightweight and slippery experience (click to start recording, click to stop recording, share your video) that people were confused about whether things were actually working when they were. People didn’t know how to end a recording or whether they were actually recording their screen after they clicked the extension.

This one overlay saved us hours of customer support time:
Very simple on-boarding with a large button in the middle saying “I Got It”

2) Get Sleep 😴

This seems obvious, but lack of sleep is a pitfall teams run into with product launches all the time. You scramble to get last-second things done and then launch with little gas in the tank.

Handling numerous customer support tickets, bug reports, business inquiries, and so on would have been much more enjoyable if our main energy source wasn’t exclusively Red Bull, La Croix (thanks Niv), and coffee.

Tip: Set up a rotation. Avoid the temptation of the whole team being up from midnight to 3 am right after launch. It will be thrilling to get those first up-votes and comments, but the real activity picks up when the East coasters hear the alarm, roll over, and start their day on the right foot by opening their Product Hunt app.

3) Be Active on your Product Hunt Post 📈

These are your potential power users. They’re a group of tech early-adopters who are taking the time to comment on your post — be around to answer their questions and concerns immediately. If you treat these comments as a discussion forum rather than a Q&A and you can get some very interesting conversations going. This is critical early on so individuals of all mindsets see the value of weighing in.

Funny enough, using Openvid was easier and more personalized than typing out long responses, so we ended up using it to send personalized video replies to people.

4) Be Active on Twitter 🐦

If you have a Twitter account for your product, even with a small following, engage with anyone tweeting about your product actively. Product Hunt originally required users to sign up with their Twitter accounts so the community is generally very active there.

Product Hunt also tweets out when you’ve reached certain up-vote milestones. Re-tweet that. And tweet about it again with a personalized note and GIF/image. From your comment section you can click through to individuals Product Hunt profiles and find their Twitter accounts.

Tip: Tweet at people who comment and/or sign up to your product. It will increase the chances of them sharing more about your product!

5) Have Several Ways to Communicate With your Users 💬

Once you have people coming to your website and signing up, you need to offer them several ways to get in touch with you. Make sure your email is highly visible. We all posted our personal emails all over the Product Hunt post comments section. Even more important is to make sure you have something like Intercom on your website. Quick back-and-forth chat style communication is now expected from your users and critical for converting visitors into users.

Tip: Make sure you have a way for people to know you’re listening to their requests and concerns. We ended up keeping a doc of all feature requests and converting it into a public facing feature request board via Product Pains.
From left-to-right: Intercom, Product Pains, Product Hunt comment thread

Product Secret Sauce(s) 🎉

Although this was our first real Product Hunt launch, we had all launched products before. We wanted to understand what had made Openvid so sticky. Here’s the the most important things we were able to decipher in what what I believe to be priority order:

  1. Offer your users instant gratification in your product. Preferably in as many areas as possible and as soon as possible (including your Product Hunt comments thread). With Openvid as soon as they finish their recording — no matter how long it was — they get a publicly shareable video link. This was a huge reason the tool did so well. We had basically eliminated the pain people feel when it comes to handling video files, uploading them, converting them to useful file formats, and so on.
  2. Understand the real value your product offers and align that with your singularly focused objective. Some products are hard for users to tie a value to until they start using them on a regular basis. Some products solve such a huge and specialized pain point that it’s immediately obvious you will want to be using them (Segment comes to mind). Depending on which product you’re launching, you’ll want to think carefully about your pricing and conversion strategy. Are you growth or revenue oriented? For Openvid specifically, most people don’t record videos on their desktops because they view it as cumbersome and a huge hassle to work with. Our strategic objective at the time was growth. We knew we wouldn’t get nearly as many people recording and sharing if there was any hint of pricing so we nuked any notion of payment and answered questions with “what you’re using today will always be free”. Know where your focus for the business is, what value your product offers and you’ll prevent shooting yourself (and your strategic objective) in the foot.
  3. Put yourself in a position to learn as much as possible. Product launches are great for spikes in traffic and growth, but you need to make sure you have formed some hypotheses around how people will use the product and test those hypotheses. This is going to give you clarity on the next steps for your product roadmap. Take the extra few days to implement analytics and automated outreach efforts to maximize learnings from any shortcomings or home runs throughout the launch lifecycle. We didn’t have all our ducks in a row here which would have saved us A TON of guess work. You can’t retroactively collect data or catch users in a specific mindset after the fact.
  4. Offer easy and/or incentivized ways for people to spread the word. We launched a product that mainly revolved around sharing out video links as part of their natural communication cycle. This was great, but we didn’t have a lot of things at launch that would have really taken our viral coefficient to the next level (referral system, inline previews in Facebook, Twitter, and Slack, etc). Most people launch products on Product Hunt to drive initial growth to their platform but if you take the time to optimize for sustained growth you can get multiplier effect on the value you get from Product Hunt traffic.

Launching on Product Hunt is an incredible way to initially get the word out about your product, especially if you don’t have an existing user base. You don’t necessarily need to have a ton of sophistication around your vision for the product. However, you do need a general idea of what value you offer, what will convert people, the ability to learn throughout the process and the analytics to figure out if those ideas are true. Most importantly make sure you’re engaging with the community in real time! Good luck!