How We Fought Against Three Unicorns on Product Hunt and Survived
Our very first iOS app, Betera, launched on Product Hunt on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Our goal was to be one of the top 5 products of the day, but we ended up ranking 15th out of 80 products. Yes, we missed our goal, but we are super proud of ourselves.
Here is why.
Last Tuesday was a rather unique day with three Unicorns (Amazon, Slack, WhatsApp) all launching their new products on the same day, along with a few version 2.0 products that already had a decent following. Right off the bat, it was quite obvious that we were going to get buried. Except that we weren’t. Luckily, we came to the battle prepared, and we managed to stay on the main page for two full days. We also ranked as the top food product of the day, and we are still ranking higher than Hootsuite 3.0 for the Social Media Tool category. Overall, it was a huge success for us, and we wanted to share with you how we were able to fight against not one but three Unicorns and survived.
About a month ago, when we started preparing for our launch, we had no idea what we were up against. We honestly thought we could just post on Product Hunt and get all the attention in the world. But we quickly learned (thanks to Ovi Negrean and his amazing article) that it would take much more than just a good product to successfully launch on Product Hunt, especially for first-time entrepreneurs like us.
Then we studied multiple articles and Quora posts about Product Hunt launch strategies and came up with the following three areas of focus:
- Make friends on various Slack communities. Fast.
- Launch a Thunderclap campaign and get the initial boost in upvotes.
- Prepare to reach out to Product Hunt users who upvoted similar products.
First, we joined a number of Slack groups immediately and introduced ourselves in the #intro channels. But only a few people responded. That was obviously not enough, and we needed a better way to reach out to the thousands of members on multiple groups. So we did what we do best — hustle— and started messaging people one at a time. At first, we wanted to go down the entire list of 5,000+ people on each group, but that was very time-consuming and ineffective. So we only introduced ourselves to those who were online at the time, and most people responded within a day or two. We were a bit scared that people would find us annoying, but to our pleasant surprise most of them responded with warm welcoming messages like this:
Throughout the whole process, we made sure that we weren’t just trying to make connections for our own sake. We tried to be as helpful as possible, offering free design or marketing help (I come from a design and marketing background). Most people didn’t need our help after all, but it helped us become a part of the community very quickly.
After a couple weeks, we made over 300 friends whom we still talk to even after the launch.
Thunderclap is a very interesting service that lets you gather social posts from your friends and sends them out all at the same time. It helps you to create a bigger splash when you launch, which is crucial for Product Hunt. Here is a video that explains how it works: https://youtu.be/wvPfuV00-1k
We learned about Thunderclap from Ovi’s article, and we were very intrigued by it. It was the perfect way to ask for our friends’ help in advance, and it worked like a charm.
After creating the campaign, we reached out to our friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, one by one. It didn’t take us too long to reach the goal of 100 supporters, which generated a social reach of 173,104 people. This was a great way to get the initial rush of upvotes that we needed on the launch day.
Lastly, we made a list of people who upvoted food-related products on Product Hunt. We manually went through each of the profiles and made a list of Twitter handles that we can reach out to on the launch day. We made this list as a backup plan, just in case we didn’t get enough upvotes. And sure enough, we had to use the list towards the end of the day. But it wasn’t without its side effects. We had never made any introductions to these people, so we were essentially spamming them without realizing. One of them actually left a comment on our page (after upvoting us):
We learned a valuable lesson here. We should have done our due diligence to reach out to these people beforehand, just like we did on Slack. As it turns out, the line between hustling and spamming is very thin, and you should always make sure you’re not on the Dark Side…!
On the launch day, we were hunted by Kiki Schirr who coordinated the launch with us ahead of time (Thank you so much Kiki!). Then we initiated some of the other tactics that we prepared. We sent out an email to our current users, wrote a blog post on Linkedin, added a welcoming banner to our website, posted a video on our Instagram page, and released a free press release about our launch.
Then we launched the Thunderclap campaign and started reaching out to the new friends that we met on Slack. We constantly wrote about our launch on Twitter throughout the day, and we told our friends who supported us on Thunderclap to come check us out. But we made sure not to ask for an upvote directly. Apparently, it’s against the rules, and we wanted to play by the rules.
Around 11:30pm that day, we ran out of all the tactics that we prepared. And after a very long day, we proudly ranked 15th out of 80 products including Slack, Amazon, and WhatsApp, and we managed to stay on the main page for two full days!
We also gained a lot from this experience. We got a fresh batch of new users; we heard valuable feedback and questions that will help us improve our product; and we also made some really cool friends along the way. But most importantly, we learned that we can stand against anything as long as we don’t give up and keep hustling.
Finally, I want to leave you with this quote that inspired our team throughout the whole launching experience:
“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success”
If you’re thinking about launching on Product Hunt, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @justinjaechung, and I will try to help out as much as I can. Also if you’re wondering about our product, you can visit us here: www.betera.co