Oh, no! My startup got featured on Product Hunt while I was at lunch
There are a lot of articles out there about hacking Product Hunt, getting 10K visits, getting 1000 up-votes, getting #1, and they all go bragging about their careful preparation, Swiss timing and German execution. But what happens when some random guy submits your startup to Product Hunt and then a week later another random guy gets it featured without you even knowing?
You panic, you call your co-founders and you get to work. One week later you have 1000+ new users and you write an article about the craziest 48 hours in your life.
I am Ivo and with my two partners Angel and Atanas, we are the founders of Enso. Our first product is an iOS app that helps you discover new music by listening to song previews. Swipe left to ban a song and never hear it again or right to add it to your music collection. You can sync your playlists with your favorite music provider (currently Spotify) and listen to them later.
A Tinder for music, but not really. Enso is actually built around the old art of crate digging, where you will find yourself in a huge warehouse or record store full of vinyls and dig for hours looking at album covers and filling your crate. Only after you get home you get the records out of your crate and start listening.
Enso was soft-launched on the AppStore in October. There weren’t that many downloads since we hardly promoted it. We were acquiring our first users the hard way. Talking to them face-to-face, understanding their music habits and connection with Enso. There were a lot of hypothesis that had to be proven and only after that we could seek higher exposure, like being on Product Hunt.
Plans never go as planned
We had a plan, until last Tuesday. Just as I was having my lunch thinking about the few days off that I will spend with my family for Christmas, I received this:
Oh, great! Thanks Arjun and Ben for ruining my family vacation.
Although there are some successful relaunches, Product Hunt is generally one shot. If you don’t make it right from the first time, there is rarely a second chance. And we were not ready for this. We didn’t know any influencers in the community, we didn’t know any press, we didn’t have a horde of fans and supporters, or that’s what we thought.
I told my partners Angel and Atanas about what is happening and we got to work. These are our takeouts: (TODO)
1. Tell the world
Being on the homepage of Product Hunt truly is something you should be proud of, especially if it is completely unsolicited. Therefore the first thing you should do is to make sure everyone around you knows about it. A lot of people will check your product, only after you are on Product Hunt, it is like a seal of quality - use it.
2. Don’t ask for upvotes
Tell the world you are on Product Hunt, but don’t ask for upvotes. Asking people to vote for you might get you more exposure, website visits and downloads. But fake exposure sucks.
It is a discovery, not a launch platform. The real power of Product Hunt lies in its community of early adopters. These are people that will download your product, try it and give you genuine feedback and validation. If you are in just for the numbers, there are better ways to get them.
In the first few hours we did not understand that and openly asked some of our friends to vote for us. Don’t do it! If you want to get into the top #5, build something awesome and it will not go unnoticed.
3. Follow up
The best takeout of Product Hunt is the feedback you get, so make sure to follow up with everyone that voted for you. Thank them and seek their feedback. Ask them how they feel about your product, what is good and what is bad. Have a public discussion on Product Hunt or Twitter.
You are a startup, and there will be a lot of things that are missing, unfinished or just broken. Don’t try to hide them. Share your vision and plans for the future of the product and work to deliver.
On December 22nd we became #3 in the Tech category with 580 upvotes, we were featured on a banner on the Product Hunt’s homepage, and we made it to the daily newsletter.
In the next 7 days we got 1774 new downloads and 4521 website visits, but the most important thing we got is the feedback from our new fans and users. They emphasized our strengths and weaknesses, and gave us the clarity and energy to pursue our vision.
Being on Product Hunt, while not wanting to be on Product Hunt taught us a lot of things. But the most important takeout for me is: Don’t wait!
You will never have the perfect product, or the perfect Product Hunt campaign. There will always be something that doesn’t go as planned. Actually some of the best things will happen“by chance”. Seize those opportunities as they come and make the best of them.
At the end I am happy to tell you about something new that we have been working on:
Enso Music Daily
The idea is simple: we email you a daily list of song recommendations based on your Enso music profile. Starting off with a broad range of genres, it gets more personalized as you use the Enso app.
There are some great ideas of how to make it even more awesome, but we really need your feedback. Use it, break it, share it and don’t forget to tell us, so we can create the music discovery experience we all deserve.
Thanks for your support and I hope you enjoyed reading about our Product Hunt experience. Please hit recommend if you did! I would love to hear your feedback so make sure you say “Hi” on Twitter @ivosabev.