Our journey to Product Hunt front page

Our scientific collaboration platform Guaana got recently featured on Product Hunt and it truly rocked our world, to say the least (rocked our universe would probably describe it better).

So what exactly happened, how did we prepare and what did we learn.

On the glance

We got hunted one Friday morning and the next thing we know Guaana is #2 trending in tech and pure awesomeness is flying in from all doors and windows.

Guaana is a platform for scientists, innovators, change-makers and pioneers to connect with each other, share knowledge and build teams to work on shared projects.

We doubled our user base, all interactions on the platform flew off the charts and we found collaboration opportunities we hadn’t even dreamed of. That’s unusual, as we are used to dreaming big. After all, we are connecting all the scientists in the world to one platform.

The Great Hunt

Product Hunt front page is the Moby Dick for all tech startups. Sharing the best new products popping up around the world, PH is the kingmaker of the Next Big Tech. Getting to the front page may just be your stairway to heaven, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Time to do your homework

There are countless products featured on PH daily and even with the best product in the world, it’s easy to get unnoticed in the avalanche of all the apps, tools, and gadgets cooler than Michael Knight in the 80's. So if you want to stand out, be prepared for some groundwork.

What we did before launching:

1. Read a lot. Everything we could get our hands on about launching on PH. Do’s and don’ts, tricks and tips, huge success stories and even bigger fails (which can teach you much more). Lots of information on Medium and Makersuccess.

2. Became active members of the PH community. We began to hunt products we liked, connected with community managers (extremely helpful!) and users, shared, and voted. Basically got acquainted with PH and their audience, earned some kudos.

3. Found a prime hunter — we introduced Guaana to a top hunter Bram Kanstein, the founder of Startup Stash, the #1 upvoted product on PH (how he did it). He well deservedly has loads of followers and loved our idea so luckily for us he agreed to submit us.

4. Prepared an opening word for the community — sharing the story why we do what we do and what is the pain we are relieving. You have to describe yourself from the PH community point of view — what will the hackers, developers, designers, and (a truly surprising amount) scientists get out of your product.

5. Made a marketing plan — defined all the channels to share the news and prepared various materials (e.g. a newsletter for our userbase). The first few hours are crucial so you have to have a plan how to get the word out there and gather traction (you can’t ask for upvotes directly!).

6. And then we waited.

Let the hunt begin!

Our initial target was to publish on Thursday as various sources warned to avoid Friday and weekends, but life happened and we were facing Friday. But okay, we could still do it.

And then it happened, on Friday around 4 AM (ET) Guaana was posted to Product Hunt. If it seemed in the beginning of the post that it was just a *grabs popcorn* moment after that, then I lied. It was a *holy mother of god, attach an IV drip with coffee and move your little fingers as fast as you can* moment.

Our e-mail and social media accounts were flooding. Comments, suggestions, compliments, and ideas for improvements were pouring in like heavy rainfall on monsoon season. Various invitations, partnership requests, and interview offers — one awesome opportunity after the other, getting more unreal by the minute.

Such users. So traffic. Much wow.

Our advantage was that we were working in the Eastern European time zone (we’re from Estonia, Tallinn), so while America was sleeping we went through our prepared marketing list and started to share the news through all channels imaginable.

By the time Pacific Coast woke up we had 200+ upvotes and Guaana was trending. By 12 AM we were leading the scoreboard with 320 upvotes.

Our user base was growing fast, about 10–20 new users per hour. By the end of the first day, we had approximately 200 new sign ups and the momentum was still growing. Considering our narrowly focused target audience we were more than impressed.

After 48h we had around:

  • 450 upvotes on PH
  • 60 comments on PH
  • 15 000 page views
  • 3000 unique visitors
  • 03:30 average session duration

After a week, we had doubled our user base. And it wasn’t so much about the quantity rather than the quality and variety of users and the content they provided. Nearly 85% of the sign-ups were our target audience. Scientists and high-level experts from MIT, Oxford, Harvard, Google X, and European Space Agency among others. From US to Uganda and Mongolia, the world seemed to love what we do and wanted to jump on board.

Guaana sign-ups from 8th to 15th of April

Before we went public on PH there were 3–10 connections made daily on the platform and after the launch it has been 50–95 every day. Researchers and experts from different scientific fields, from cancer research and bioengineering to machine learning and computer vision, connecting and working together to bring forth the next scientific and technological breakthroughs.

We also got 16 new science and tech Projects submitted which is amazing as they are not easy to write at all (or come up with in the first place). Science, you know…

Proposing ideas like “Aptamer-Based Hybrid Assays for Early Stage Disease Diagnosis” or “The Reimagination of the Elaboration in Language and the Philosophical Inference of Metaphors” sure sounds more complicated than tweeting that you saw Beyonce on the street or taking pictures of your detox vegan gluten free almond foam pumpkin spiced latte.

Make it rain (feedback)

Of course, we loved all the sign-ups and action on the platform, but the feedback from PH community is what really made our day.

I’m pretty sure there have been moments in every new start-up’s life where for a minute you hesitate whether your idea actually is as awesome as you think it is. All the feedback and compliments gave us a huge boost of confidence to keep on going.

Some of the feedback we received. Mickael had a good A4 page of ideas and questions following. Priceless input.

Our favourite part? A Project was proposed by the community to build a mobile app for Guaana. They are open sourcing it every step of the way and we are just there to support them. So we could say that Guaana started to build Guaana. This is a powerful statement that we really are onto something the world wants and needs.

Nir Levanon’s, Project “guaana App” Author, profile

Knowing that all the innovators around the world care about what we do, support our mission and understand the essential need to make science more open and efficient, makes all the sweat, tears, and 16-hour workdays worthwhile. And we got such amazing suggestions and thoughts on how Guaana could evolve in the future.

Love is in the air

What we didn’t expect from PH was the variety of contacts and collaboration proposals.

Our communication channels have been on fire since the hunt. Partnership offers, event invitations, interview requests, and all kinds of ideas for collaboration pouring in at a steady pace which doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Foreign governments, extremely influential foundations, and tens of other start-ups, from France to Japan, are interested in joining forces. And then there’s funding offers. You got to love the funding offers. Because as much as we would like it, our landlord doesn’t seem to accept promises to change the world as rent payment.

Cannot disclose any names at the moment but there are some mind-blowing announcements coming soon.

We got so (and I mean like SO) much more than we could’ve ever hoped for. It’s easy to miss the true value PH delivers when you submerge into data such as traffic and sign-ups. There is so much more hidden behind this layer that cannot be empirically compared and is unique to every product featured.

Takeaways

Prepare. Remember your mom always told you to do your homework? Well in this case, we and everybody else who have ever succeeded or failed their PH launch are telling you: DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Clear your schedule. Sh*t’s gonna get real. You will be so busy keeping up with the action that you won’t have time to explain your wife why you’re not coming to dinner (and that you’re really not having an affair) or prepare tax statements with your accountant. (founder’s note: clear everything for a week. Seriously.)

We actually intended to host a celebration party late that evening. Drinks, music, and all the usual party thrill. Eventually, it resembled more of a computer lesson in a mental ward than a party — orchestra of furious typing accompanied by weird excited noises and occasional loud outbursts of maniacal laughter. We made the mistake of inviting a few friends as well who promised never to come to our “parties” again.

Buy coffee. Lots of coffee. All those comments and emails are not gonna answer themselves. And keep the chinese takeaway number close.

Engage. Communicate with the people commenting and offering feedback. Be active and responsive at all times while your trending. It won’t last forever so make the most of it and keep the engagement high.

Breathe. You will be very busy and very very excited. But it wouldn’t be so awesome to get a heart attack just as you’re getting yourself in the big picture. So take five and try to relax from time to time.

Buy a space suit. Done right, your company will be flying towards the Moon before you even realize what happened.

We’ve been running around the office like overly excited children at Christmas since the PH launch. It was an amazing experience that brought us huge traffic spikes, lots of new users and friends, invaluable feedback, and opportunities we didn’t even dream of.

So buckle up and get ready for takeoff!

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. For the sake of not writing another “War and Peace” we didn’t cover all the details :).