How to Launch Without Launching — Advice From the Founder of Superhuman
Godwin Chan
Tim Nugmanov
Alfred Heath
Helen Nash
Robert McDaniel
William Curtis
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"Our main challenge then became this: how do you find product-market fit when you are not yet launched?"
About two years ago, the Product Hunt community got a first look at Superhuman, an app that promised to be the “fastest email experience in the world.” 60,000 people subscribed to get access.
Today, Superhuman remains invitation-only and its larger waiting list is 180,000 people long. How? There’s evidently a demand for a faster and more sophisticated email client than the 15-year-old Gmail.
So what happens when you do get that coveted Superhuman invitation (and pay the $30/month price tag for access)?
Superhuman plugs into your existing email account, but only works with Gmail and Google G Suite addresses right now.
Some of the app’s features: Superhuman lets users undo sending an email, track email opens and send follow-up reminders. It’s more ~unique~ features include keyboard shortcuts for everything, “instant intro” for moving introductory email senders to bcc and a scheduling tool that automatically pulls up your calendar when you’re typing out a day of the week.
Today, Superhuman announced a $33M investment by Andreessen Horowitz, bringing the company’s total funding raised to $51M. The company is valued at roughly $260M.
We spoke with Superhuman founder, Rahul Vohra — who previously founded Rapportive (another email startup that sold to LinkedIn in 2012) — about the news, as well as the lessons he’s learning building a product that hasn’t actually launched yet.
On raising capital (in stealth): If you are raising money, raise significantly more than you think you'll need. Ideally, raise one whole round ahead of your current level of traction. This means that you raise your pre-seed when you would normally have nothing, that you raise your seed when you would normally have your pre-seed, that you raise your Series A when you would normally have your seed, and so on. This will give you the time it takes — and it does take time — to build a truly remarkable product.
On the non-traditional launch (or lack thereof): The Product Hunt community absolutely adores productivity tools. We could see this by looking at the most upvoted submissions — almost all of them are for productivity. Ship was perfect for us — it is a very fast way to grow an early and enthusiastic audience without having to prepare the buzz and materials for a traditional Product Hunt launch.
On finding product-market fit: Fortunately, we were able to raise a lot of money. Our main challenge then became this: how do you find product-market fit when you are not yet launched? To solve this, I created our now infamous Product-Market Fit Engine. It gives you a way to define product-market fit, a metric to measure product-market fit, and a methodology to systematically increase product-market fit. It can even generate your roadmap for you!
On why Superhuman works: You'll see that folks love Superhuman for three main reasons: they get through their inbox twice as fast as before, they respond to important emails faster, and many see Inbox Zero for the first time in years. The funding will be used to double down on all three. Superhuman is already the fastest email experience in the world, but we are going to make it even faster.
Notes
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My humble take. This won't go anywhere. People in the valley can keep smoking whatever shiny substance they are, until the music stops.
Totally second raising more than you think you'll need. Under-raising is a common problem with venture-backed startups. There are always bumps in the road.
Because Gmail doesn't do any of this already? Because Google killed Inbox, so it seemed like a good idea to create an Inbox-like product?
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