What exactly is Product Hunt’s secret?

Following up on a recent post on the topic, someone asked me a simple question:

“What exactly is Product Hunt’s secret?”

I think the magic happens because all the parties involved in the ecosystem in scope (tech products) are actively participating, they have their own motivations and they can be fulfilled by the platform.

1- Makers. These are the people who build tech products (website, apps, etc.). This group is:

  • craving for attention from potential users and potential investors.
  • trying to validate an (often) early concept. Early adopters are of great help here.

2- Journalists/bloggers. These people are always looking for new ideas, trends and products they can write about (ideally: first).

3- Investors. There are similarities with journalists. Their biggest fear is the so-called “FOMO” : the Fear Of Missing Out. So they need to know what’s happening, what’s hot. In addition, being able to watch the level of interest generated by a new idea/product is an interesting signal.

4- Passionate people. The three groups above are certainly passionate. But there are also people that simply love to be at the forefront of tech. What’s the latest cool app? What are the latest trends? Their friends turn to them to get answers to these questions. And if they can “hunt” great new things as well, they will develop a positive “reputation” among their peers.

And there you have it, a perfect, virtuous cycle:

Cool new products get “hunted” by passionate folks. Journalists get to know about them first. Investors get to see if “there is something” about these products. Makers get publicity, product feedback, and — potentially — investors leads.

As a follow up — and after reading this interview from the founder of Product Hunt — you have to wonder: can this be applied to other verticals? Product Hunt is testing it with Books and Games. But what about something like Fashion? It seems to me the four groups above exist. But there are a couple of differences:

a- There are fashion investors. But — I think — they are not as active as tech angels and VCs (there are 100s or 1000s of tech investments every week).

b- Tech is particularly fast paced (from creation to global distribution: it is “cheap” and fast)

c- Everyone can download and test a new digital product right away to make up their mind (it is certainly not true in fashion)

And lastly: with things like fashion, brand ambassadors play a key role. If Cara Delevingne says something is nice, a lot of people will agree. And — I could be wrong — but it seems to me there is often money involved with these things. This is certainly not as developed in tech.

Nevertheless, let’s assume it could work. There is one more thing Ryan Hoover at Product Hunt did really well: when he started PH, he already had participants in every group, including very influential ones for 2- and 3-.
Duplicating in Fashion would mean that from day one, active participants on the platform would include Garance Dore, Jack McCollough, top people from LVMH and so on.