We launched Roadmap on Product Hunt this past Tuesday, 10/11/2016!! You can see our post here. It’s been a crazy ride since then and we wanted to share our experience and what we learned in the process. Here are 5 things we learned launching a product on Product Hunt.
Have you launched something with Product Hunt? What did you learn? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
#1 If you feel ready when you launch your product, you waited too long.
We created a deadline for our public launch date of 8 am PST on October 11th, 2016 three weeks prior to the launch. Goals and deadlines inspire us as co-founders and motivate us to spend our time on the right things, at the right time. Even though there weren’t external parties counting on us to stick with our public launch date, it was an important early milestone for us to reach as a team.
When we created the deadline we had a static marketing site, a super minimalist UI, and, let’s be real, quite a few bugs and remaining questions about the app. In those 3 weeks we prioritized the marketing site’s migration to WordPress, integrations with GitHub & Trello, a UI/UX audit, and the launch of the public roadmap 2.0. The last priority was a bit of scope creep on our ends from what we initially saw as the MVP we planned to launch with. We felt passionate the best way to immediately understand the value of the public roadmap feature was to see an example of our own public roadmap. This update was pushed Tuesday morning at 7am EST (4 hours before launch!). In the chaos of launching the new version we accidentally deleted our team’s entire Roadmap account and all the content that was there. Doh!
We share these examples of chaos because when it came down to the wire we considered pushing the deadline back by one day. An extra day would have given us the chance to fully complete the public product roadmap feature and devote more focus and energy on our strategy for launch day. At 6pm PST on Monday night we finished the front-end development of the public roadmap update and decided to wake up early, fold it into the app, and stick with our launch date.
Launching our product before it was ‘ready’ helped us feel more confident about ourselves and our commitment to getting user feedback as quickly as possible by sticking with our original goal. We took to heart Seth Godin’s advice about shipping before you’re ready because you’ll never be ready. The feedback sooner rather than later from the Product Hunt community better served our goals than continuing to build our product in a bubble around our assumptions (more on that in #3).
#2 It pays to have someone other than you ‘hunt’ your product.
Anyone can share aka ‘hunt’ new products on Product Hunt. Members of the Product Hunt community achieve social status by engaging with content and gaining followers. When you follow someone you receive notifications when they share new products.
Our team, being Product Hunt newbies, reached out to Justin Jackson, the host of the MegaMaker podcast and all around builder of cool things to help us with our launch by posting our product on Product Hunt. A few months ago I read Justin’s post “Why you want more than product/market fit” and it literally caused me to quit a project I’d been working on for years to start Roadmap. I was so inspired I reached out to him to thank him for helping me make such a big decision. I reached out to him again once we decided on our launch date to see if he’d be interested in helping. He agreed!
With Justin’s help and our combined outreach to our networks of influencers, Roadmap was posted around 8:30 am PST and by early afternoon was trending on the homepage.
One of our favorite thought leaders Hiten Shah even shared Roadmap with his 29k+ followers!
The support from the startup/tech community helped us get some really special love on Twitter too. Our favorite tweet came from our co-founder Allison Marshall. Her gif game is on point and sums up how it feels to launch something new.
#3 Engage with comments and be ready for product feedback.
The biggest advantage of launching with Product Hunt was that the PH community is specifically interested in cool products and we happen to be a tool for making cool products. The vibe we got from the community via comments on the post and messages through our app was that the community genuinely cares about supporting builders and helping them improve their products. We received 4 pieces of feedback that within two days we’ve already implemented on our marketing site and in our app. We see you product hunters and we loved the feedback!
We received ~20 comments on the thread and responded to all of them. We didn’t receive notifications every time someone posted (maybe this is because Justin was the original hunter?) so we had to keep checking back and refreshing the post to stay on top of the comments. The questions we got immediately helped us understand how our messaging and value propositions resonated with a larger audience and recognize ways to improve the signup process.
#4 Offer a unique incentive to the Product Hunt community.
It wasn’t until we realized how much value the Product Hunt community was providing via feedback that we felt like we dropped the ball in not offering something to show our gratitude and incentivize signups. Prior to our public launch we’d offered a 50% off discount to our beta users and during the launch with PH we decided to extend that discount through the end of this week.
Perhaps a little late in the game, we shared the discount announcement in the comment thread and Justin also edited his original post. If we’d had more experience launching a product on Product Hunt, we would have included a discount or a special incentive from the start.
#5 What to expect.
We didn’t know what to expect from launching our product with Product Hunt. Given that we were still pushing code and putting the final touches on our marketing site, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about our objectives.
At first we thought breaking 100 upvotes would feel like a win. Then we broke 100 and the goal became 200. Currently we have 400+ upvotes! We were ecstatic to see our product trending on the home page and we loved this snap a pal sent the next day where Roadmap was featured in top hunts.
At our stage of growth Product Hunt became our all-time largest referrer for web traffic. Hundreds of people signed up in our app, a big first for us, and we even had users upgrade to paid plans on our launch day despite having a free 14-day trial. We were excited to see big brands like Paypal, Twilio, Hilton, and Warby Parker signing up to check out our product. We aren’t interested in raising capital anytime soon, but we also got a few introductions from VCs who have been part of building some really cool teams.
Another thing we learned was that it was really difficult to focus on anything other than engagements on Product Hunt, social media, and with each other. Between the nerves, the excitement, and all the new conversations we were having we didn’t have time or focus for other projects that day. Our advice? Embrace the chaos and plan on dedicating the day to having as many conversations as possible!
Overall launching our product with Product Hunt was a great strategy for the free exposure, valuable user feedback, and growing early stage revenue. We’re excited to have so many product hunters influencing our product and look forward to building awesome things together!
Published on Friday, Oct 14, 2016