Brenden Mulligan

Brenden Mulligan

Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 25, 2015

Discussion

Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
Hi, Brenden here. I've made more products than nearly anyone else on product hunt. I'm also one of the creators of LaunchKit, a set of tools to make mobile development much easier. Please do ask away!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
if you were the CEO of product hunt - what would you do ? :P
Jeff Needles
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@eriktorenberg hire @rrhoover to PM it all? ;)
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@eriktorenberg hire Ryan Hoover as my replacement and get out of the way.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@mulligan good answer 😉
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@mulligan Hey Brenden, Is there a 'friendly' rivalvry between you and Mubs ;) - what drives you to make so many products?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@bentossell no rivalry at all! :) The making products thing is just natural. When our team finds an interesting problem that we feel best suited to solve. Sometimes that takes a weekend, sometimes it takes months.
Seth Louey
Seth Louey@sethlouey · 🙌 2017 & 2016 Maker of the Year Nominee
@bentossell Oh snap! Called out @mubashariqbal in an AMA ;)
Mubashar Iqbal
Mubashar Iqbal@mubashariqbal · I design, I develop, I make.
@mulligan I find competition is healthy. It's great to see the quality of products that your team is producing and just encourages me to do better! // @bentossell
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@mubashariqbal agreed, but building a product just for a stat on product hunt is pretty much the opposite on my belief about building products. So personally, i'm not competing :)
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Hey @mulligan! 1) Is there any particular product that you wish you'd have built? Why? (Not necessarily just because of dollar potential) 2) Which technological advancement do you foresee most positively affecting the product world?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@andrewmettinger 1) so many. recently, it's calendly because it's such a simple and powerful tool. too many to list though. people build some amazing stuff. 2) i think driverless cars is going to be transformational to our society, infrastructure, and safety. I'm impatiently waiting for it.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Brenden! You and the team have transition from Cluster (a series of photo-sharing apps) to LaunchKit (a suite of tools to help mobile app builders). Both are very different products. What inspired you to switch directions?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@rrhoover It was a slow evolution over time. We've been working on Cluster for about 3 years, and we all adore the app. We have a very dedicated and growing user base. But we raised capital, and had to face the reality that private networks are very slow to grow. So although it is growing faster than ever before and we still are actively developing it, it didn't seem like something that was going to return our investors their money. But while building Cluster, we had also been releasing a lot of learnings and tools to the developer community. For example, the post we did on iOS permissions got over 250,000 views. The Sketch template we posted here was the top product of the week. So we decided to explore taking all the learnings and internal tools we'd built for ourselves and turning them into a product. We started the experiment in February this year, and within 2 months it was clear we wanted to double down on LaunchKit.
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@mulligan Hey! Is there anything weird that you do to stay so productive? Any routines? Interested in if you've ever struggled with burnout / how do you keep cranking away? 😎
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@mscccc our team has always kept reasonable work/life balance. Personally, the only time I've ever burnt out was when I was working all day and all night on my startup. That "hustle" ended up making me less creative, more stressed, and ultimately less effective. Other people on my team have experienced similar. So, with Cluster and LaunchKit, we stress that family comes first and except in rare cases, evenings and weekends are for the team to spend away from work recharging for the next day/week. It's worked wonders, as our tiny team (we're only 4 people!) is one of the most productive teams I know. We're able to get things done and ship things quickly. I attribute this to the fact we're not killing ourselves simultaneously. Also, I try to sleep at least 6-7 hours a night. No reason to be exhausted when trying to create solutions for complicated problems.
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@mulligan thanks! 💯
daniellevine
daniellevine@daniellevine · Fireside
@mulligan Thank's for doing this AMA. I'm wondering, what's the best thing you've come across in the last 30 days (other than a product you've made) and why? Could be anything, a product, an article, a tea, a quote. Anything! Thanks for answering.
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@daniellevine wow. big question! stream of consciousness: I love the new Chvrches album that was released today. I've recently started using Outlook on iOS for email and love it. And I'm fairly obsessed and have written about a new way to schedule meetings with tool called Calendly.
daniellevine
daniellevine@daniellevine · Fireside
@mulligan @daniellevine thanks @mulligan. I too started using outlook recently but haven't fully committed to it. Gonna check out your other recommendations!
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@daniellevine it's not perfect, but i like it. The badge count alone is so much more accurate and immediate than Mail.app
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@mulligan What would you like to see built that you will not be looking to tackle yourself?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@bentossell hmm. it's not so much that i dont want to tackle, but can't tackle not because i dont know the right approach. but i'd love to see technology help the less fortunate in a more direct way. San Francisco is a wonderful city, but the dichotomy between overpaid tech workers and a giant homeless and displaced population is challenging to witness daily. I'd love to find a way for one to help the other in a way that made people as inspired as they get with other things. I think there are a lot of opportunities to bring transparency to challenging social problems that have been difficult to understand before. but again, i'm very green on this and have no solutions. Hand Up is a great example of an organization attempting to make a difference with a unique product.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@mulligan Hey Brenden. What's a typical day for you like? Can you just run us through your day (start to end) so that we can just get a good idea of how you plan out your day and some of the tasks you handle on a normal day?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@erictwillis It's a mix. We're hiring, so I spend a LOT of time on recruiting and talking to candidates. That is a lot of calls, coffees, lunches. I try to block out time in the middle of the day for solid creative time. So .. 730 wake up, shower, check email (i've started leaving my phone in the living room instead of next to the bed), 8/830 - ride train to work, get in between 8-9 8-10 is social time (recruiting) 10-12 design/creative 12-1 lunch with the team 1-130 customer support for LaunchKit and Cluster (I do it all) 130-5 creative time 5-6 afternoon coffee/call with candidate 6/630 head home
Kiki Schirr / 史秀玉
Kiki Schirr / 史秀玉@kikischirr · Founder, WeKiki Video Chat Platform
Brenden, I understand having multiple products going at once (maybe all too well!) but you seem to be very successful at *finishing* your products. Any pointers for someone who might have spread herself too thin with a few projects at once?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@kikischirr stop worrying about showing it to other people. it's 10x better than you think it is and get it out there and show it to people. i dont consider all the launchkit tools finished. they're all missing critical features. but they're perfectly fine to release and already solve a ton of products. so LAUNCH! :)
Kiki Schirr / 史秀玉
Kiki Schirr / 史秀玉@kikischirr · Founder, WeKiki Video Chat Platform
@mulligan @kikischirr Thank you, that's great advice.
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@mulligan How has PH influenced the way you make and launch products?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@russfrushtick Product Hunt does something extraordinary: it forces you to be succinct. We've learned a lot about how to name and position products for success by posting a bunch of stuff to PH. I wrote a bit about some of our learnings here. It's also a welcoming community for new things, so it lowers nervousness for posting something new.
Shaan Puri
Shaan Puri@shaanvp · ceo, Monkey Inferno
@mulligan @russfrushtick good (non-standard) answer
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@shaanvp @russfrushtick haha .. thanks! :)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
How would you describe your angel investing philosophy and goals?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@eriktorenberg I'm going to post more on this soon, but a quick except to answer your question: I angel invest if I can answer yes to at least one of these questions: 1. Do I know and believe in the founder as an entrepreneur? 2. Do I use (not just understand) and value the product? That’s it. I'll explain more soon.
Grrrrl
Grrrrl@polly_withers · PhD Researcher
@mulligan Hey Brenden, Interested to know how you got into code & product design in the first place? Thanks! Polly
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@polly_withers hey there! I just found a very old post I wrote about that here. The summary is that I tried a few different web frameworks and picked the one that felt more comfortable. Years before this I was always just interested in technology, so it was natural that I wanted to try to build some of the interactions that I used and enjoyed every day.
Shaan Puri
Shaan Puri@shaanvp · ceo, Monkey Inferno
What's the biggest idea in your head right now?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@shaanvp we'll be releasing the first sneak peek of it in the next couple LaunchKit tools. We have a philosophy about changes to mobile development and we're prepping the first few experiments now. Hopefully more on this soon.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey Brenden! Thanks for joining us today 🙌 You've worked on so many products, do you have a favourite? Do you have a least favourite 😜?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@ems_hodge Ha, great and hard question. Cluster still remains to be my favorite from anything we've built. It's a really special app. And LaunchKit has been incredibly fun to build. Then TipList is still something I use a lot and love. And MorningPics still makes me happy every day. Sorry, hard question. Too many options. :) Least favorite probably is Webbygram, probably just because it's something I created in 4 hours and it was kind of a joke anyway.
Adam Kazwell
Adam Kazwell@kaz · Product manager/observer
@mulligan wait, you still use TipList?? Can you pretty please build an updated version as a native app? Think it has a ton of potential!
Justin F Harris
Justin F Harris@justinfharris · Co-Founder, Beehive
@mulligan Keep making great products. Any advice to small teams to mimic the success you've have had with building and launching one product after the next? Is there a formula your team follows?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@justinfharris Hey there! I recently did an interview with First Round Capital about advice when launching products. You can find that here. That's full of my thoughts and processes for launching products. The summary: "A successful launch is all in the details, from vetting the right journalists among your early users to carefully crafting each word of your product description. It involves winnowing down 100 data points to the most critical three metrics and rallying the entire team to field early user requests. Ideally, launches are mostly exciting beginnings. Like fireworks, they grab attention, but there must be more — the product itself — that keeps everyone engaged long-term." As for building, the best thing to do is use a lot of products, figure out what makes them special, easy to use, etc.. And just keep iterating on your own. Dont get caught up in thinking what you release needs to be perfect. Just get it in front of users and get their feedback. Over and over and over and over and over.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Hi @mulligan! =) Your pace of creating products is impressive! How do you prioritize your time between your different projects? Do you solely work on one, then another, or do have concurrent projects running all the time? If so how to keep focus? Thanks!
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@alexcartaz With LaunchKit, we are building a collection of tools that will all work together. We have a pretty detailed roadmap of when we build new tools vs add features to existing ones. It'll all make a lot more sense when we release our next set of tools, but prioritization is pretty easy to be honest. We still actively develop Cluster, but it's not as much time as we spent in the past. It's the first place we launch all our LaunchKit tools so it's still a very important asset that we want to keep relevant and up-to-date (iOS 9 update coming soon!). As for products in the past, I spent a year learning to code and design. During that time I wanted to release 4 things to the public. The 3rd was Onesheet, which ended up growing rapidly and screwed up the schedule. I tried to launch TipList during Onesheet's rise, but Onesheet was taking too much time, so I pretty much stopped working a lot on TipList the day after it launched (also because I saw some fatal flaws in the app's model).
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey Brenden, what advice would you give to yourself at 18 / 25? Would you have done anything differently?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@ems_hodge When I was 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do except go to college and experience something different. When I was 25 I was working in the music industry at a record label in Chicago. Very different life. I left the record label to start ArtistData, which was my first startup. I built it in Chicago from 2007-2010. That was very challenging. Chicago at the time (pre-Groupon) was not an easy place to build a startup. Very few people there knew what entrepreneurship was. If I could change anything about my career, it would be in 2007 to move to the Bay Area instead of staying in Chicago. I think building that startup would have been a lot more educational and less expensive here because I would know if it was going to success or fail much quicker.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@mulligan what are your ultimate goals in the tech space? who do you really admire and what do you want to achieve? as in, 10-15 yrs out what do you want to look back and say you've achieved?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@eriktorenberg I want to continue to build products that have a meaningful impact on people's lives. I know that's cliché, sorry. But I want to keep having an impact on others, and increase that impact with ever product I create. With LaunchKit (and ArtistData and Onesheet) we're hopefully giving mobile teams tools to be much more efficient and productive. With Cluster, we're giving people a way to share special experiences with loved ones in an intimate way. Those are inspiring things to work on.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@mulligan What are some of your essentials tools/resources for being a top marker?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@bentossell honestly, knowing how to code. By doing a lot of the design in code instead of photoshop or sketch, the project moves faster and we get higher quality feedback. That said, I love Sketch, SublimeText, and Tower.
Jeff Needles
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
@mulligan Top new dev features in iOS9? What are you most excited about for the future of LaunchKit?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@jsneedles that's a question for @rizzledizzle, who's currently at the Apple Store to get his new phone. He's the one really digging into the iOS SDK and knowing how we can add additional value for iOS 9. When he gets in, I'll ask him to reply here.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
You've achieved so much in your career so far, what is one moment that stands out for you as the most surprising, and secondly the most proud?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@ems_hodge funny, i dont think i've achieved that much. ah, perspective. most surprising thing i think i experienced was realizing how supportive the bay area startup community was. At least when I moved here, everyone wanted to help each other, and wanted to see each other succeed. and there were SO MANY PEOPLE doing startups. it was an incredible change from Chicago. As for proud, that's tough. I feel like I'm most proud of everything our team launches as we launch more stuff. I will say one of the biggest relief moments in my career was selling my first startup. I had put myself into a LOT of financial debt as I continued to make mistake after mistake. Basically was close to bankruptcy. When I sold the company, it was life-changing, not because I was rich (I wasn't), but because I was back to 0 and didn't have debt.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Hey Brenden, Great to have you here! What is your inspiration behind each product you've launched? Are they all solving a problem you've had? Or is there something else driving you to create?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@jacqvon thanks! the only product I can think we built in recent memory that didn't solve a problem WE had was Compose. A couple friends mentioned a problem they had and we knew it'd only take a couple hours to build. Other than that, everything we've built has directly solved problems we had. Cluster was created by 3 people who went on a trip together and wanted an easier way to share photos. We solved our own problem. Every product in LaunchKit is built specifically to solve a problem we had building Cluster.
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
I guess that's it! thanks all!
Kartik Krishnanand
Kartik Krishnanand@kkrishnanand
@mulligan I wanted to ask you about Cluster and LaunchKit. You and @taylorhughes seem to be concentrating more on LaunchKit. What factors led you to decide to pivot (if I may use that word) to concentrate on building LaunchKit? What do you think will be your revenue stream with regards to that?
Brenden Mulligan
Brenden Mulligan@mulligan · Founder, LaunchKit & Cluster
@kkrishnanand Hey there. I covered that a bit up in regards to @rrhoover's question: http://www.producthunt.com/live/... We'll be rolling out a premium tier to our services soon!