The Product Hunt Effect

A book about the impact of community-driven startups

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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
Hello everyone,

I'm really excited to announce the book I'm currently writing! As many of you know, I've been a really passionate Product Hunt community member: as a top hunter, moderator, and as a maker with projects like Maker Success, Maker Hunt, Product Hunt Book Club, and other initiatives. Over the past several months, I've been working directly with 100s of makers to learn more about the successes (and failures) of their launches, getting the intimate details regarding how they've managed their launches (pre-launch and post-launch), and interviewing them in an attempt to identify the most common pain points so that I could share this valuable information with the community.

I've learned some fascinating things and still learning more as I have 150+ interviews to complete. One of my favorite discoveries is the fact that a large number of makers create some of their products solely because Product Hunt exists as a channel that vastly increases the chances that their work will be seen. Things are being built that otherwise would never be created. I think that's awesome.

I've also learned that many people are still unsure about how great communities are built and the best way to leverage these communities to not only launch a product but to quickly get to product/market fit. Though a lot of the frameworks and case studies provided will be directly related to Product Hunt, I'll also be digging deeply into other communities like Kickstarter, Reddit, Hacker News, and even very nascent community-based.

I'm looking forward to sharing the insights I'm learned from the many entrepreneurs, product managers, makers, community managers, and others who have been kind enough share their thoughts and data with me. I'll be around here all day to answer any questions you may have.
Tom MasieroΒ β€” GM of LaunchBit
@erictwillis how important is building a brand. I feel like I see a ton of great products on pH but most are missing any type of strong branding.
Alexander ObenauerΒ β€” CEO, Mindsense (Throttle & Mail Pilot)
@erictwillis Can't wait to see the result. Kickstarter, Product Hunt, and Hacker News were all absolutely necessary to start my company to the level of success it saw in its first year. It's a fascinating new world, and I'm glad you're telling many of the interesting stories that do need to be documented! And let me know if there's any way I can help.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@alexobenauer Thanks Alexander. I'll be in touch.
Ulrich SossouΒ β€” Cofounder, FlyerCo
@erictwillis what is the single biggest mistake you've seen people make when launching their product?
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@blendahtom Brands are mostly built over time so I don't think it's the most important thing to consider for a Product Hunt launch. I think a major issue that many makers deal with is that they often come to Product Hunt to get validation. They may get that from the influx of news users by either paying attention to usage patterns or directly asking those new users the important questions to understand if they're serving needs and finding out what they need to do to improve the product (and also just determining if they've built something valuable). The problem is that once they resolve the issues and push out new releases, they often feel the need to be featured on Product Hunt again because they weren't ready for growth at the time of the initial feature. Great design, ad copy, etc are important, but I think the timing of the launch plays a huge factor in what happens after being featured.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@sorich87 Hello Ulrich. I don't know if this is the single biggest mistake. However, I think the single biggest opportunity that's consistently missed is not creating a custom landing page specifically for Product Hunt and providing a method to re-engage those visitors (newsletter for instance). You can very easily add several hundred or 1000+ highly targeted users (some have done over 5k) to a mailing list if you set things up well. These are people that might otherwise forget your product and would have signed for a pending Android release, for instance. That's just one example. These are people that can provide feedback or that might need to be engaged several times before they actually decide to give you a real shot later. Don't miss that opportunity.
Josh MuccioΒ β€” thepitch.fm
@erictwillis I'd back any book that has your name as the author. You are an incredible community manager and I've seen you help out so many people in Maker Hunt. You're like the giving tree! Seriously, I can't think of anyone more qualified to write this book! Can you give us a sneak peak at one of the insights you plan to include in your book?! Let's do an AMA ;-)
Hash_tag_jeffΒ β€” Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
@erictwillis Congrats man, this is awesome
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@jeffumbro Thanks Jeff!
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@joshmuccio Thanks Josh. I should probably copy and paste some of the things I've listed on the Kickstarter page.
Ross RojekΒ β€” CTO, GoLocalApps
@erictwillis I'm seeing a StartupBookBuzz interview coming. Congrats and good luck.
Erik TorenbergΒ β€” Former Product Hunt
@erictwillis congrats on the launch! Can't wait to get a copy. I know there's a ton in here - What's NOT in the book that you are still super curious about?
Timothy KearnsΒ β€” Tim Kearns
@erictwillis Great work - congratulations. How important is the name of a company in relation to brand & product? ClipCard is one of those names that people either love or think - "hey, that's weird". I'd love your thoughts on the current thought logic on the naming of companies.
RocketClubΒ β€” founder, RocketClub
@erictwillis Congrats Eric. I studied entrepreneurship at MIT, and currently working on my 4th startup to help companies build community. I have some thoughts about this and would love to discuss some of yours. We should connect.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@jimmynotyres I think it's important to have a name that's both easy to pronounce and remember. While I think there are cases where the name is very important (think of Mint.com where a short, relevant name allows you trust the company with your valuable financial data. I think that was a case where it was important that @apatzer made the wise move to grab a notable url), in most cases it's likely not that significant. I think a name becomes powerful because of the emotional connection that you make with a company that delivers value and satisfies your needs in some way. Are Google and Twitter really great names? I guess they're easy to remember, but essentially it's about the product.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@angeladopter Let's connect. Get in touch on twitter!
Conrad WadowskiΒ β€” Founder, GrowHack
@erictwillis Sounds cool, and this definitely interested in hearing what you find.

Interested in including the below article in your research? Goes into some aggregate numbers for folks selling courses using Fedora (e.g. 26,447 users and $207,152 in sales from ProductHunt).

https://medium.com/@ankurnagpal/...
Joshua FairbairnΒ β€” Started, MorphoMFG
@erictwillis @blendahtom I couldn't agree more. this is happening a TON on Kickstarter / Indiegogo / Crowdfunding platforms right now. People are seeing a ton of early success but it flops as the brand isn't built out properly. The next service based business is to help companies expand into retail / distribution channels in the new world we live in! Brands are the key!
@erictwillis This looks great - nice work Eric. I just backed your project ++
Shaan PuriΒ β€” ceo, Monkey Inferno
Props to @erictwillis on this book idea. Let me quote the most important part imo:

"One of my favorite discoveries is the fact that a large number of makers create some of their products solely because Product Hunt exists as a channel that vastly increases the chances that their work will be seen. Things are being built that otherwise would never be created. I think that's awesome. "

One of the beautiful things about products is they make it easier, cheaper, or feel more "normal" to do things than you otherwise would have.

eg. Thought sharing through:
Books (professionals, hundreds of pages) --> Journalism (professionals, ~500 words) --> Blogging (amateurs) --> Twitter (everyone, 140 char)

Communities like product hunt contribute to an ecosystem level change that is making it easier, cheaper, and more 'normal' than ever to make interesting things that people want.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@sacbookreviewer Definitely! Will connect with you in Slack.
Ross RojekΒ β€” CTO, GoLocalApps
@erictwillis where you live as a slackbot.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@eriktorenberg I missed this question earlier. That's a really great question. I'm really curious about "no stack startups" http://blog.aweissman.com/2015/0... and what some products might look like built on top of Meerkat for instance. I can see some interesting solutions that could live "in" Meerkat. Maybe I can discuss some of this with @benrbn or @Nivo0o0. Actually, @jsneedles we need to make this a topic for discussion on Meerkat or Blab.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@automaticyes Thanks Alexander!
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@shaanvp Excellent comment, Shaan!
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@ankurnagpal @conradwa Hello Conrad. Thanks for sharing this. I'll dig deeper.
Michael BuckbeeΒ β€” Founder, a bunch of stuff
@erictwillis Very excited for the book Eric - you have so much energy and insight into these things - will be great to have it collected in one place.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@blendahtom @justjoshinyah Yeah. It's a common topic that comes up during discussions with makers.
Ross CurrieΒ β€” Founder, CrowdLoot
@erictwillis @blendahtom @justjoshinyah And manufacturing.

A lot of great crowdfunding projects flop because they fail to transition from prototype to commercial manufacturing. There's a few services starting to pop up in that space, but still a lot of room I believe.
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
Sam HoustonΒ β€” Senior Community Manager, Bugcrowd
@erictwillis Cool stuff. As a community manager and someone who works at a very community driven company, I'm looking forward to reading your takeaways and insights :)
Brandon WaselnukΒ β€” CEO, Co-Founder Tattoo hero
@erictwillis it was great chatting with you during the 'making of', in your opinion what was the most standout story you heard during your interviews? What was the biggest impact you saw from a company through Product Hunt?
Conrad WadowskiΒ β€” Founder, GrowHack
@erictwillis for sure. Feel free to reach out over email, and I can hunt some stats down for folks who are open to revealing their numbers. Email: conrad at usefedora
Bram Kanstein (@bramk)Β β€” Creator of @startupstash
Super excited for you! To the moon!
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Eric WillisΒ β€” Working on something new
@bramk Thanks for all the help, Bram!
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