Why do so many Product Hunt launches go nowhere?

Tim Parsa
16 replies
I love PH and the builders that share products here. I admire the parade of creativity and entrepreneurship and the community of hunters who support and promote them. Just about every product that gets hunted shows a lot of love, effort, time, talent, and resources. I see potential in just about all of them. But I've noticed that a small fraction of the products hunted here go anywhere. Most settle to the bottom of the ocean that is the Internet. Having built a bunch of fintech startups over the past 10 years (Uphold, Airtm, Cadoo, and Slyk) I've come to think of building being four stages of product traction, each of which requires finding a different cohort of supporters: 1. Idea Stage: you need to find Believers for moral support because building digital products is hard, requiring a lot of time, effort, and focus. Believers can be people suffering the painful problem you are trying to solve who validate that they need the better mousetrap you want to build. Seems to me like most PH launches skip this step. 2. Pitch Stage: you need to find Collaborators who are excited about helping you build the product. These can be co-founders or first-check investors-- people who are going to invest their time and money alongside you. This is where you need to not only describe the problem you are solving and the Believers you are going to help, but also why you are the one to do it. The Pitch is persuasion that your product has potential. I feel like many PH launches skip this step too and go straight to the building stage. 3. Product Stage: This is where you and your collaborators build the product, preferably a skinny MVP that you can get into the hands of your Believers ASAP and use to recruit more collaborators. This is where we meet most of Products on PH. The products and their marketing materials generally show a lot of love, care, and talent. 4. Network Stage: This is where your awesome product gets spread by Believers to others who have the same problem. Many startups implement referral sale rewards programs to incentivize this sharing, essentially giving their user base a way to get discounts on the product they love. The goal is the hypergrowth that useful digital products can easily achieve thanks to the Internet, accelerated by digital money. Most PH launches never achieve this stage, even though my impression is that every digital product launched here would love to experience exponential growth. One explanation as to why not all products achieve hypergrowth I've heard is that there is a limited number of products that could be useful to that many people, like a limited number of songs or movies or books that can become hits. I'm not convinced by this. What I've learned from building a lot of digital products that have achieved Stage 4 virality is that you can iterate to hypergrowth if you establish feedback loops as early as possible, i.e. with Believers & Collaborators. My thesis is that digital product builders need to start incentivizing these feedback loops at the earliest stage of product conception, way before the first line of code or domain registration. And I don't think it's too late for products hunted on PH to start these feedback loops to find and reward Believers or iterate until they do find them, and then leverage that cohort to find more collaborators (including investors like me) and users until hypergrowth is unlocked. I'd summarize my thesis like this: if you want to achieve hypergrowth, monetize the potential of your idea as early as possible and share the upside with everyone who helps you grow stage to stage. Would love to hear thoughts and feedback on my thesis.


Jorge Falcon
This is an excellent point, Tim. Most people are too enthusiastic and think that the first thing to do it's launching ASAP before someone else "steals" their idea. No. The first step to create something is to surround yourself with people that truly believe in your idea and are willing to help you go for it, no matter what. That's the only way to materialize it and make it grow.
soul software
thanks for sharing! will try it out. sounds like a great way to build together.
Interesting post - I think for a lot of builders it's the fail fast mindset that is in part creating this situation. If it doesn't get traction now that's it - despite the fact that PH is not everything!
Ezzat Suhaime
@maxwellcdavis Silicon Valley fail fast mindset is real
Ezzat Suhaime
Stage 1 and 2... Never really heard it put into words, but I really agree with these statements. I kind of wish we talked to our core users earlier with Spade. I also find that there are a lot of PH products that aren't differentiated, which could explain the large number of launches following 1/x.
Launching soon!
I think you are right when you say that some people are so involved with their ideas that they lose sight of the market. Some of these "idea people" spend all their time making their invention instead of considering how to bring it to market. They do not learn the skills they need to market their ideas. This can result in a failed product.
Arun Pariyar
I only started coming face to face with startups recently, what you have described here gives a complete bird eye overview. I don't know if this is the only way to go about but I will keep your insights in the back of my mind moving forward in my journey. Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ‘
Paul VanZandt
This is a really interesting analysis, thanks for sharing. I can track our journey at each stage pretty well, so hopefully we've set a decent platform for ourselves. We're an online whiteboard startup there's plenty to analyze in the pitch and idea stages. We're launching on PH tomorrow if you're interested: www.producthunt.com/upcoming/fresco
Bernadette Cau
Startup building might be a back-and-forth project. One often needs to build an MVP before pitching, and then develop the project and pitch again to get early adopters. You point out that many makers publish too early on PH. It's true, but this only means PH is an accessible platform for ideas validation.
Kazimieras Melaika
Getting ready for the launch is a must if you don't want it to go nowhere. I think that probably the most important thing is to build community, make people believe (just like you said) your idea, and build something that is really relevant to the community! Btw, weโ€™re launching in the mid of June. Check out our upcoming PH page: www.producthunt.com/upcoming/eff... Our project is called: Effecto. Itโ€™s an app for detailed habits, health, symptoms, and meds tracking. Pretty much for everything that is related to your physical or mental health and every daily factor that can affect you.
Nitin Thotapalli  ๐Ÿ˜บ๐Ÿ˜บ
Hey Community, I am Nitin, a product developer @ VenEx. Which is an Equity free compensation model, to hire and retain great talent by gamifying the workplace. We have been working on this product since so long and have 1 paying customer as of now. Is it the good time to launch our product on PH(Product Hunt)?
Wendi Yin
This is such a helpful article! I'm launching my product on PH soon and would love to network with more entrepreneurs. Let's link up!
Maya Ben Zid
Fully agree with your TL;DR statement and wish more founders would consider it. Regardless of how innovative the idea is, it's only worth as much if there isn't a solid business use case behind it. If people aren't ready to pay for your product, it often means there's no market.
Paolo C
Ah, step #4. The elusive and arguably most important. You can build a golden bridge, but without those to tell all about it, the only passengers that bridge'll carry is dust. That's where we content creators and writers come in! :)
Jareer Samad
Thanks a lot for sharing this, Tim. Building a community of believer around an idea and iterating based on their feedback to product market fit is one of the surest ways to achieve hyper growth.
Daniel Caridi
This is a big question i have too