We spent countless hours playing by Product Hunt rules.
Was it really worth it?
It all started after reading this great article by Need/Want a few months ago. Need/Want had launched an Emojimask side project that had generated more than $50K in 2 months. One of the main sources of traffic for their project was Product Hunt on which they launched “by sheer coincidence”, which led to huge press coverage like the Huffington Post, Wired and many others.
So @PretaPousser, a French start-up specialized in growing food at home, we decided to leverage Product Hunt for the Kickstarter launch of our new product: Lilo, the easy way to grow fresh herbs at home. (Which raised $185K in total)
1/ It was harder than we thought
MAY 27 — LAUNCH OF OUR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN
We first decided to launch on Product Hunt the same day we launched on Kickstarter. But we quickly realized it wasn’t that easy to get on Product Hunt. If you post the product yourself, or ask someone from the community to post it, it will get lost in a firehose: the upcoming section. Dozens of products are posted there everyday, and very few get featured on the main page.
We realized that we needed a Hunter, that is to say someone influential in the Product Hunt community, to get our product posted directly on the main page.
Knowing no one in the Silicon Valley and no one influential on Product Hunt, and after checking among our friends and connections, I tried to get in touch with a couple of entrepreneurs who had posted several products on Product Hunt, including @Marshal from Need/Want, but got no answer.
That’s why we dropped Product Hunt to focus on our Kickstarter campaign, but we kept the idea in mind.
2/ A glimmer of hope? Nope, false alarm
JUNE 8 — GETTING IN TOUCH WITH A MAKER
10 days later, Tom, the founder of Weld asked for some help to translate a mail into French. We had found his app through Product Hunt. We had then used it for our Kickstarter video and exchanged a few words over email.
I asked him how he had managed to get featured on Product Hunt and he nicely offered to put us on. Since he is not a hunter but only a maker (someone who had already published a product on Product Hunt), we were about to be released in the upcoming section.
It was 90% sure that our product would not be featured on the main page and would stay in second-class category, but we had no other options.
JUNE 9 — GETTING IN TOUCH WITH A HUNTER
But the next day this mail came in:
Tom had introduced us to a hunter! We were now sure to be featured on the first page of Product Hunt.
JUNE 15 — LAUNCH DAY
We were ready for the launch! Grégoire posted our product on June 15 @1.26 PM CET = 4.26 AM pacific time.
Hardly had we started screaming “It’s live” that our product disappeared from the home page.
Reason: product is prelaunched.
We were taken aback.
We got in touch with Erik, chief curator of Product Hunt in the US to show them that we are a real company, with a real product:
We talked with Bram, Product Hunt representative in the Netherlands who told us he couldn’t do anything to change it, so we dropped it one more time.
This time we thought it was over.
3/ Back in the game
Two days later, we noticed this on Product Hunt:
We realized that a new icon had appeared; meant to differentiate launched products from pre-launched ones. Was that a joke?
So we got in touch with Bram, and he told us that he was about to contact us.
Rules had changed, we were able to launch again!
Dear god of lean, we adore you.
JUNE 18- REAL LAUNCH DAY
We were really excited and relieved to be on. For real this time.
We were now able to work on boosting our ranking for the day. How did we do? That’s another story (not yet written).
Lilo totalled 414 upvotes on Product Hunt that day, and got in the top 3 of the Product Hunt newsletter :-).
4/ What it all boils down to
It was easier than we thought to get featured on Product Hunt. Just find a hunter and ask him to post your product, and for this, there are 2 very simple tools:
2- Find the most influential Hunters on Hunterhunt. Then contact them through Slack.
5/ Impact of Product Hunt on our Kickstarter campaign
1. Great traffic
Traffic has been great, and accounted for one of our biggest activity peaks since the launch of our website. Very close to when we were featured on the 4 largest TV channels in France.
We got 2,8K sessions from the US over one week compared to 300 over a similar week during our Kickstarter campaign.
2. Few pledges on our Kickstarter campaign
We estimated the pledges from Product Hunters to $2,6K out of a $185K campaign. Which is not nothing, but quite low in comparison to the effort we put into it.
A lot of product hunters came on our website but very few of them actually backed our Kickstarter campaign. We don’t really have a clue on why.
3. No press coverage
We got no press coverage at all. That was the most disappointing part of our PH launch, as we were expecting some press in the US. Surely the fact that we launched on ProductHunt at the end of our Kickstarter campaign has something to do with it.
All in all, we were really pleased with the experience, which enabled us to introduce our new product to the US tech community, and meet new entrepreneurs. Traffic has been great on our website during the launch, and it boosted us to create a cool landing page for Lilo, the same we now use for preorders.
On the other hand, conversion on our Kickstarter campaign as well as press coverage have been disappointing given the time we spent working on it.
So don’t rely on Product Hunt as a revolutionary tool to launch your product, but think of it as a great tool to promote your start-up.
One more lesson is that Product Hunt rules are not clearly defined, and it would be of real help for start ups to get clearer info.