Five product lessons


By Austin Smith, Assembly


I am constantly learning from the great teams building products in the Assembly community. Here are five cool things I’ve learned recently:

Growth

Gamamia is a product that helps people find and share indie games. A few months ago, one of the core team members on Gamamia created an Imgur post that listed 30 awesome, free indie games.

This is the exact same content that people who use his product are interested in, so it was a great way to showcase Gamamia.

That post went to the front page of Imgur and ended up getting more than 700,000 pageviews, driving tons of traffic to Gamamia.

Lesson: By creating content that will be loved by the people who use your product, you can reach the right people. Also, this taught me that Imgur is a great platform for content distribution in some cases.

Transparency

Helpful is a super simple support desk tool.

At one point, @coleylogan, an alum of the airbnb support team jumped in and offered a ton of awesome feedback on the product:

(this is just the start of her note, read the rest here if you’re interested)

By capturing every bit of feedback they could, the team was able to guide the direction the product should take.

Lesson: The advantages of building in public can pop up in the most surprising and delightful ways. (more on building in public by Ryan Hoover)

Messaging

Runbook is like IFTTT for devops. So, instead of getting woken up in the middle of the night, an ops team can set up monitors to check if things are working and some automated reactions if they aren’t.

When @madflojo first built Runbook (then called Cloudroutes), he had created a great product that was very useful to him, and a landing page that talked about why it was useful to him:

Nobody was signing up.

After collaborating with some people who have experience in marketing, developer evangelism, and technical writing, he ended up with a great landing page that positions the product, explains its value, and has two great testimonials: runbook.io

After that, lots of people started using (and paying for) Runbook.

Lesson: Having a product that solves problems for people is a necessity, but that alone won’t always lead to success. A little bit of marketing and messaging love can go a long way.

Opportunities hiding in plain sight

Assembly has been mostly known as a place where people can come together and collaboratively turn an idea into a product. But, since the start we’ve allowed people to bring existing products onto Assembly too. This proccess had never been formalized.

So, in January we put together a simple landing page at saveyoursideproject.com

It just walked through the value of bringing an existing product onto Assembly, the story of some products that had done this, and the process you could take to do it.

That day, more than 100 side projects became community-built products on Assembly.

We didn’t build anything new — we just formalized a process around something we’d always done.

Lesson: When people create new use cases for your product, it can shed light on an opportunity for you to capture. Capture it!

Open-mindedness

When I first learned about PayPerWin, my lack of familiarity with the gaming industry led to skepticism of whether it was a good product and whether the Assembly community would rally and build it.

Then I saw @Nik’s hustle. He explained why the current monetization models for gamers aren’t great, he explained why his product is better, and he demonstrated it by getting some professional gamers on board while the MVP was still in progress.

Then, he got the community to come together and build it with him.

They haven’t launched yet, but @Nik recently posted about the amazing, fast progress they’ve made.

Lesson: Keep your mind open to products and markets you don’t understand.


If you found this post helpful, I’d appreciate if you ❤ it so that others will see it.
Also, if you like building and growing products, join me on Assembly.
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