Top-🔟 learnings after first Product Hunt launch

Mike Costanzo
61 replies
Been creating a mashup of Notion + DocSend for the last 5 months and just launched on Product Hunt last week. Some learnings... 1. Being nice and giving of your time can pay off when you need to ask a favour...but it still feels weird to ask people to check out your app and upvote. Slack groups, I'm active one were a great place plus DM's in Linkedin to people I knew and had relationships with. Go into pitch/sales mode. Lean into the discomfort. 2. You still need to have a good sense of your target customer and the problem you solve. Even if vague. Hopefully, the launch will bring some clarity but just because your Mom/Best Friend/Partner created a PH account and gave you an upvote doesn't mean you learned anything or get closer to your goal of PMF... 3. ...but some of those people might surprisingly see value in what you create in ways you did not expect. But they need to use the product not just give you a vote. 4. The feedback is the most critical so get someone to leave a comment on your PH Post to get that ball rolling. I had people DM'ing me feedback in Slack channels etc. but after I finally asked one of them to post the feedback in the PH Posting it got the ball rolling with others. Energy went up. 5. People will hit you up almost immediately to "get you to the top of PH" as a service and you will consider it. I don't think I will go this route, as with the points above, it just feels like gaming votes and not real feedback (still not sure if this is being too idealistic 🤷‍♂️). 6. Message people you know directly and ask them to look at the page and upvote (PH frowns upon asking for upvotes on public forums and it makes sense). I posted in the general channel of Slack groups where I knew people well. Many still did not take action until I DM'd them. Some of the people I DM'd have shown interest in what we've built in ways I didn't expect. You have to go into pitch/sales mode and be ok with it. I tried my best to customize each DM based on a rough template and be genuine (see Learning 1). 7. PH must use the point from profile reputation heavily because we had far more upvotes and comments than products far above us and we were never able to break into the top-20. Got stuck around 25-27 most of the day. It makes sense or else it would be easy to game the system. 8. So being on PH and checking out and interacting with products and people in advance likely pays off big time if the goal is maximum exposure. Luckily you can launch again so I'm getting more active in the community to see how it goes in preparation for future postings. 9. The goal of breaking into the top listing of the PH page for the day is something to strive for but there is a lot of learning even if you don't. At the very least it creates an event to give you a momentum push and get the team aligned and focused on what you're building and where you should be going. It's a "get out of the building" action and the more of these you do the better your chance of success IMO. 10. Zero-to-One product development in a new startup is brutally hard. I went from feeling energized to exhausted, and now back to energized all within 24hrs. Go on a walk after DM'ing and hustling all day. Have a good night's sleep and get back at it in the morning. Your morning team debrief may just be the thing that turns everything in the right direction. Check us out on Product Hunt 👇


Sarah Jordi
Thanks so much for sharing your learnings! There are definitely a few things in there I hadn't read yet in other posts.
Mike Costanzo
@sarahxjo thanks. That’s great too hear. I basically wrote this near real time. Probably the fastest posting I’ve ever done. What did you find in it that you haven’t read elsewhere?
Sarah Jordi
@mikecostanzo Honestly "Lean into the discomfort" is the biggest one for me. I despise sales and it is incredibly hard for me to ask people for support (because I don't want to push people to use a product they maybe don't need or so... Not sure, does that make sense?). But in the end it is normal and it is totally fine to do it. So "Lean into the discomfort" is something I will put on a sticky note and on my screen at the office! :D And your second point is something that I never thought about, but it obviously makes so much sense. And point 9 also makes a lot of sense, but I guess with the ambition to launch on PH with a bang, we kinda forget that even if there is no bang, we still learn a lot along the way.
Mike Costanzo
@sarahxjo so happy to hear that. Post a the sticky note on Twitter if you do. I’m @mikecostanzo there. It’s so true though. It gets fun once the ball starts rolling and people start responding. Even if the feedback is critical. And #2 is a big one IMO. Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics. #AlwaysBeLeanring 🙌
Ryan Ross
Thanks for sharing your experience, Mike. I really like your thoughts on utilizing personal connections and reaching out to your network via DM's.
Jade Dating
This is great - especially relate to the uncomfortableness of going into sales mode but very necessary to lean into the discomfort like you said.
Mike Costanzo
@deleted-3277980 totally. I’m pretty extroverted and it was still tough. I hate being seen as spamming people. So I tired as best I could to make them real unique convos for each person. Took longer but I didn’t want to sound like it was a generic canned message.
Rashika Ahuja
Thanks for sharing this. It is really helpful. My team and I went through the same thing say 15 days back, we strived to reach the top, building connections, speaking to people in various communities still we were on the 9th, but it was a thrill, and the team enjoyed it. People were so supportive when we reached out to them, but PH has its algorithms work in varied fashions. So we just took our learnings and started preparing for the web version of the same product.
Mike Costanzo
@rashikaahuja ah interesting. I was mostly solo so getting to where we got seemed decent. I kinda just jumped in. In retrospect I would have built up things a bit more. But then I wouldn’t have been able to write this post of learnings I guess 😂 Congrats on getting to 9th!
Devanand Premkumar
@rashikaahuja That is interesting to hear. Care to share your experience on what to focus and what not?
Jayson Cantones
this is so true, I really need this right now. thank you so much I appreciate the effort and sticking into reality! Again kudos.
Aleksej Vukomanovic
Thanks, these are good points
Eric Yang
Well said. I just launched yesterday. I was not well prepared but wanted to try out to get first experience. Shall be better in future launch. You reminded of the more important tasks - find your users, talk to them, get the feedback and improve.
Mike Costanzo
@ericy99 sometimes you just have to jump. Talking to user and feedback are the most important things. Don’t get distracted.
Vikram Sahu ꩜
This is pure awesomeness ⚡. Quite relatable and some new learning as well 🧠. Thanks for sharing @mikecostanzo
Mike Costanzo
@snipperbytes very happy you think so. What was new learnings for you? I’m interested as I wasn’t sure if this was common knowledge when I wrote it.
This is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!!
Valentin Haarscher
@mikecostanzo What's your preferred/the most efficient channel to reconnect with PH users on the day of the launch ? As there is no internal chat or possibility to contact someone within PH, you need to be creative :)
Mike Costanzo
@valentin_haarscher to be honest I haven’t found one outside of the comments on the posting. Some people I knew so I did deeper follow ups that way. Sent out 80+ emails asking all the signups we had since then to get feedback through various email messages. And literally no responses back. I won’t lie that feels tough. You’d think you’d get at least one hit. Someone did just join from this post and were talking next Friday as they messaged me on the Intercom setup I have in the app. So one step in the right’s really tough. But maybe it means the product isn’t compelling enough and maybe PH isn’t the right audience for the product? Still thinking through that.
Tobias Gray
Nice summary. I'm preparing to launch on PH in the coming months again and your point 7 and 8 make sense. I've been trying to engage more with PH posts and discussions and guess I'll see how much of a difference it makes come launch day. It has managed to get me a few followers so that's pretty good and lead to some interesting chats so even if it doesn't affect my future launches I still have got something out of it.
Mike Costanzo
@tobiasgray yup. If you’re learning and meeting interesting people it can be worth it. Especially in these times connecting like that is critical. Startups are so hard normally and these are strange times.
George Boutsalis
Thanks for sharing Mike. Super helpful for a newbie on PH!
Mike Costanzo
@boutsalis I’m new too but I’m glad to hear it’s helped. I guess it’s true that a week more experience then the next person is enough to teach them something. 😅
Fajar Siddiq
Thank you so much for sharing ! really appreciate
Mike Costanzo
@fajarsiddiq I appreciate you reading and commenting. Honestly didn’t think people would find it so helpful.
Hector Tantoh
Thanks for sharing this. I already got emails about launching on product hunt and moving to top of the list or it's free. Something about it doesn't feel right to me either
Mike Costanzo
@hecclectic yeah. We launched just a after midnight PST and when I woke in the morning there were multiple messages through intercom almost immediately. Part of me would still love to see what it would do and if it’s something too posting use. But feels like a scam. I’ll have to look to see if anyone has posted about doing it and the results. 🤔
Jiwon Hong
I resonate every single work you said here. Thanks!
Team Tomato
Thanks for sharing. I just joined PH and this was the first post I saw. I agree with feedback being the most critical thing. Upvotes can come naturally later.
Devanand Premkumar
Thank you Mike for being candid about your learning. The interesting point I liked the most is that you also showed integrity by not taking the gray route highlighted in #5. Business is all about serving and if your product can do that, then your good and have a positive one for sure. Kudos to you specifically for that 👍
Mike Costanzo
@devaonbreaches thank you. Part of me does want to run an experiment to see the results though. It would be interesting to know if it has an effect at the very least. If I do do it I’ll share the learnings here for sure. I just don’t live the idea of doing it.
Mona Erb
Great insight! Thank you. I most definitely learned a thing or two :)
Hugo Santana 'Kaloh'
Very useful tips! Thanks for sharing!