154
Votes

Hi! I'm Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt. AMA! 👋🏼

Hey IH! I started Product Hunt alongside an awesome team from around the world.

Ask me anything!

I'll be here to answer questions this Wednesday (March 14)!

EDIT on March 14, 11:05am PT: BIG thanks to everyone that joined the conversation. I have to run to meeting but will try to return and answer more questions. 🙏🏼

  1. 27

    How did you create the first prototype for PH and how did you go about validating your idea?

    1. 10

      Hi, Alberto! Product Hunt began as an email list for a few reasons:

      1. I wanted to ship something quickly, to see if people would care. It only took 20 minutes to setup the Product Hunt email, the MVP.

      2. Email is a great channel to fit into someone’s routine and until it becomes a habit, it’s very difficult to get people to return to your site or product without some sort of external trigger (e.g. an email, push notification).

      From there I gathered feedback – many people proactively expressed their interest in the daily email digest – and watched the list organically grow through word-of-mouth. These early signs gave me enough confidence to expand the email into a site with the help of my friend and talented designer/engineer/product person, Nathan Bashaw.

      1. 1

        This comment was deleted 3 years ago.

  2. 25

    When did you become profitable? Did your team expand before that or after that?

    1. 8

      I realize this might be a blasphemous statement on IH but we’re actually not profitable.

      Post fundraising, we made the decision to focus on growing the community over revenue. Yes, we could have pursued both but instead we chose to focus because after all, everything you do takes the place of something else. Prioritization is so so important.

      That said, we started shifting more of our focus toward profitability earlier this year (more on that in this blog post), generating revenue through Ship (20% off for Indie Hackers 🙌🏼), PH Deals, Promoted Products, and (launching later today!) Promoted Jobs.

  3. 18

    How important was YC for Product Hunt?
    Did the funding and network help increase the number of users?

    1. 11

      Hi, Adith! Y Combinator is an amazing program and community. Qasar and Kevin Hale were our group partners and helped push us over the 3 month program. The network is extremely supportive, during and post-YC. Demo Day makes fundraising much easier.

      So, overall YC is worth the cost for most early stage companies imho, although it’s hard to know where Product Hunt would be without it.

      Btw, YC’s taking applications for the next batch now. If you’re applying and want feedback on your application, shoot me an email at ryan [at] weekend.fund with “Indie Hackers” in the subject line. 😊

      1. 1

        Definitely expect an email from me :)

  4. 15

    I feel that PH lost it's value, as even crapy apps are being posted there. is anything being done for this?

    1. 8

      Respect for being honest, David!

      Product Hunt, and really every community-driven platform, is subjective. The same products you think are crappy (especially if you’re not the target market) might be gold for someone else.

      A logical solution to this, that we’ve heavily considered, is personalizing the the experience in attempt to surface products that you will like. But we actually don’t think this is the right step for Product Hunt just yet. Part of its value is serendipity, surfacing products that the crowd is excited about and inspiring new ideas. We don’t want to create another filter bubble within product discovery.

      1. 1

        I disagree with David. I feel that was maybe true of PH early last year and before that with the Trump apps being the most obvious. Not sure what you guys did (maybe splitting up PH into sections?) but it's gotten noticeably better since then.

  5. 14

    How did you stay motivated when developing Product Hunt? When did you first have the idea and then how much longer was it until you had a functional application?

    1. 6

      I shared a bit about Product Hunt's beginnings in an earlier answer.

      Re: motivation, Product Hunt was born from my own excitement and interest in tech and products. Prior to starting the email list, me and my friends were sharing and discussing new apps and products, so when this sort of became my job, it was easy to stay motivated. 😊

      That said, I and the team have been challenged with many hurdles over the last 4+ years. Not everything is fun and you still have to do shitty work.

      Chris Dixon has an excellent article on founder/market fit, which is incredibly important to understand and evaluate. When founder/market fit is strong, founders are more likely to push through the hard times and builder a stronger business for their audience.

    2. 1

      This comment was deleted 3 years ago.

  6. 10

    How did you solve the chicken and egg problem with building marketplaces?

    1. 2

      +1. This one please. I guess it have to do with makers being consumers too, but it would be really interesting to know how did you solve it in your case.

    2. 2

      Would also like to know this. Currently building a site with a lot of user generated content and not at all sure how to go about growing the user base...

  7. 9

    How did you build community around PH during earlier days?

    What are major learning points do you recommend for someone who wants to build community around his product?

  8. 9

    If not PH, what would you be doing today?

    1. 3

      I’m fortunate to love what I do. I think that’s one of the reasons why I wake up so early and rush to get on the computer. :)

      If I wasn’t working on Product Hunt, I would likely spend more time investing in startup. I raised a small fund middle of last year called Weekend Fund and have since invested in 10 companies. I haven’t been too public about it but you can find a few of my investments on my AngelList profile if interested.

      1. 1

        I’m fortunate to love what I do. I think that’s one of the reasons why I wake up so early and rush to get on the computer. :)
        Awesome! :)

  9. 8

    What is the story behind weekend fund? How should one get into investing?

    1. 4

      Hi, Keyul! I’ve always been interested in VC but never made it a priority until recently. I spoke with Naval and other experienced investors shortly after the Product Hunt acquisition to get their input on how best to approach investing. TL;DR: I raised a $3M fund from many former Product Hunt investors and friends. The fund is run off of AngelList’s Angel Fund platform, which handles all the legal paperwork, bank setup, back office, and other logistical hurdles that go into setting up and managing a fund.

      Today there are more pathways to investing than ever before (Spearhead is one recent example), but it remains a difficult field to break into. Many become investors after founding a company (firms seek out successful founders that have gone through the ups and downs of company building), rising through the ranks of a venture firm as an associate, or build strong enough relationships and credibility to invest through an AngelList syndicate, Angel Fund, or scout program.

      Related: Y Combinator recently published all the videos from their Investor Startup School.

  10. 8

    Product Hunt was acquired by AngelList and of course, there are a lot of advantages in this equation. Did you see any disadvantages in not being an independent company? Or how these deals work? Do you have full control over the future of Product Hunt?

  11. 7

    What's the story behind PH's Kitty mascot?

    1. 3

      I'm not sure where we'd be without this little guy:

      https://i.imgur.com/0PXFqch.png

      It was actually created by JESS3. Jesse reached out in the early days, offering to design swag for the community free of charge (this was pre-funding). We went through several design concepts until he shared a sketch of a cat with Google Glasses, which caught my eye. We explored that direction further and ultimately landed on the PH kitty you see now. 😻

      1. 1

        👍🐈

  12. 7

    How polished should a product be before considering Product Hunt? Are there any sort of 'Best Practices' or otherwise consistencies for top preforming products?

    1. 2

      In general, the product should be functional so that people can immediately try it out. But it certainly doesn't have to be "perfect" (it never will be). Some makers are too shy or hesitant to share their products with the world. I'd err on the side of shipping early vs. late, in general.

      We shared some launch tips that apply to more than just Product Hunt.

  13. 6

    why cats ?

    1. 5

      Because they're better than dogs.

      😉

      But more seriously, the Product Hunt kitty and our use of occasional cat GIFs is intended to create a playful tone for the community. It's important that Product Hunt isn't overly academic, a fun place to explore and discover innovative/useful/inspiring/wacky creations in technology.

      1. 1

        I thought you think cat is a curiousness animal and it’s match the behavior and status when I surfing on ProductHunt! @Ryan Hoover

  14. 6

    I've been really impressed by ProductHunt's weekly and daily emails. Out of curiosity, what systems, technical and non-technical, does the ProductHunt team use to support its email process?

    Also, what is your favorite corny joke?

  15. 6

    Do you plan another project besides PH, or are you fully focused on PH and related products (Ship, Sip, ...)?

    1. 3

      ~95% of my focus is on Product Hunt and all the various projects we're working on. Fortunately, I'm one of ~20 awesome people on the team, so I'm carrying just a portion of the weight. 😊

      The other ~5% of my focus professionally is on investing out of a $3M fund I raised middle of last year.

  16. 5

    Hey Ryan! I love Product Hunt and I've discovered many awesome apps through the website but there is one thing that bothers me. I often see that products from famous makers or companies rank high because everyone knows them and automatically upvotes, while there might be other lesser known products that actually deserve the same or even more attention. Would you consider alternative ranking requirements aside from upvotes?

  17. 4

    What's the vision for Product Hunt, and how does that play into your decision-making for what to do and what to ignore? What's your ratio of being driven by vision vs metrics?

    1. 2

      Hey, Courtland! Thanks for having me on on the IH community. 🙏🏼

      Our mission at Product Hunt is to surface awesome products and help makers connect with an audience.

      Within this goal, we can and are exploring several opportunities, from the daily curated feed of new tech products (that most people are familiar with) to Ship, a SaaS-based tool to help makers build with their community.

      Re: vision vs. metrics, I don't see them as black vs. white. Metrics help inform our strategy and where we invest effort. The vision remains the same but how we get their changes all the time as we learn. 😊

    2. 1

      This is a test of scrolling.

  18. 4

    How did you get your first 100 users?

    1. 4

      I shared our tactics and thought process in scaling to our first 2,000 users on Fast Company (which itself was a growth strategy 😉).

  19. 4

    What are the biggest challenges you think need solving in the next 20 years?

  20. 4

    What's your thoughts on the evolution of launching process in a last few years? Seems like there is a movement from single BIG launch to multiple soft launches. I see that PH also notices this trend and makes it easier to launch multiple times (upcoming, sponsored products, etc). What's your opinion on this and will PH evolve more into that direction?

  21. 3

    If you were to work on a new project (unrelated to PH), what would it be?

  22. 2

    How is the Bulgarian team representing? 👍🇧🇬

  23. 2

    You’ve obviously been very involved with PH since day 1. Have there been any side projects you wanted to build but couldn’t because of your commitment to PH?

  24. 2

    Ryan! So happy to have you on IH. After reading your guide for launching on PH...does the data really show that it doesn't matter who hunts a product? It's listed under the "What not to do" section, and that surprised me. Would someone with 1,000 followers hunting a product get more visibility than my with 80 followers? Thanks so much for everything :)

  25. 2

    Hi Ryan! Thanks for doing this, great to see the team working towards profitability. How has your mindset/strategy changed since before and after the acquisition? I think the team was focused on recreating PH for multiple verticals before and currently it's doubling down on the existing audience. Curious if there's any nuggets you can share around working with Naval and AngelList related to this.

  26. 2

    Is it frowned upon to have someone submit on your behalf to Product Hunt?

    Or is that the move?

  27. 2

    What tools have you used within PH to manage your business as it's grown so quickly? (eg Trello, Slack, Google Drive...)

  28. 2

    Do you have any suggestions for someone who is trying to break out of a depressive/unproductive spell in life?

  29. 2

    How did you solve the chicken and egg problem.

  30. 2

    When i think of the hoovster i think of your very wise phrase: "build your audience before your product" my question is twofold:

    a) what is the most creative way you have seen someone do this?

    b) what tips do you have for someone trying to build their audience through the conventional routes: eg. blogging / pre launches / side project marketing.

    I remember you saying you used twitter a lot in the early days to reach out and grow your audience (great advice! but no reusing!)

    Thank You!
    Harry — PH maker of the year 2019!

  31. 2

    Whats a question that you've never been asked about Product Hunt ?

  32. 2

    Based on your work and products you've seen, how necessary do you feel is a co-founder to success? scale of 1 - 10.

  33. 2

    Advice for securing a part time career as you did in the early PH days?

  34. 2

    I'll be launching my app on PH/upcoming tomorrow, so I'd ask for any tips after the campaign is on (considering you'll be answering this until Wednesday).

  35. 2

    I love PH, because of its core concept. When people are bringing bunch of features as soon as they get popular, you're still limiting to your idea, May I know the reason?

  36. 1

    #How-would-you-do-it
    There are plenty of curated list on PH (Startup Stash etc.), but they don't show to much value in compare of what you did. If you have to build one more time a PH, but focused on Sales products how would you approach it to create value for sales people?

  37. 1

    With SF being one of the most expensive places to live in the United States, do you ever plan on leaving?

  38. 1

    Hey! We have really cool AI feature to propose to Product Hunt for free. How it's possible to contact you?

  39. 1

    Hi Ryan! Do you think that today startups more often than not should not raise funding?

  40. 1

    Hi Ryan!

    • If not YC, what are the other options for raising money? We are about to launch our private beta ans We live in south america.
    • How would you balance between quality and speed?
    • what do you think about giving something free for the first 10 users in our private beta.

    Thanks!

  41. 1

    Hello, Ryan. What email can I use in order to reach you back regarding a business offer? Thank you in advance.

  42. 1

    Hello Ryan,

    First of all, thank you for your time.

    How did you come up with PH idea? Was it something that came out of nothing or did you make a specific research which led you to your beautiful product?

    Thanks
    Dario

  43. 1

    Hi Ryan!
    My question is about the roadmap, How do you prioritize projects? I am curious about the process of going from launching Ship to then focusing on Sip. It seems like going in two different directions at not too distant dates.

    Thank you in advance!!

  44. 1

    Hi, thanks for this opportunity. Did you have fails before PH? How many? What was it?

  45. 1

    What are your personal favorite featured products from the past year?

  46. 1

    Do you plan on selling Product Hunt merchandise?

  47. 1

    Ryan,

    given what you know now, how much of your success would you attribute to luck?

    What skill would you recommend a young person learn if they are just getting started?

    Best regards,

    Ty

  48. 1

    What is your advice to young indiehackers (college or school)

  49. 1
    1. Did you build PH yourself? If not, what's it like to find some developer to make an MVP for you?
    2. How important is it for founders to have technical knowledge? Any disadvantages/advantages if a person doesn't know how to code?
  50. 1

    What steps did you take in setting up your awesome team and where did you source your team from?

  51. 1

    I notice that there's a community of PH influencers working together on launching products at the same exact day and that way they just take over PH featured products page (№1-5 products of the day). Don't you think they have a head start on other makers and are hacking Product hunt in some way?

  52. 1

    What do u think about "controversial" startups in porn or gambling for instance? Is it a good idea to go for it despite the likely backlash and risk on ur reputation? What about ethics? this startups usually work around the borderline of ilegality.

  53. 1

    Hi Ryan, I hope you don't mind but I've got a few questions:

    1. How important do you think it is for an entrepreneur to be in a tech "hub" like Silicon Valley or London nowadays?

    2. What were the biggest risks to product hunt? (Main reasons you would see it failing.)

    3. How did you come up with the idea for Product Hunt?

  54. 1

    Hey Ryan! Always a big fan from over at the Republic camp - what are your goals for PH for 2018?

  55. 1

    With your current knowledge of building Product Hunt, how would you do it if you had to start from 0? What would you do differently? What would you focus on and how would you grow your user base?

  56. 1

    I've been critical (lovingly, I hope) of PH in the past.

    At this point in PH's growth, how good do you think PH is at bringing great new projects from anyone, anywhere to its audience?

  57. 1

    If you would get 140k$ per year as a basic income. Increased over time for inflation. Until the end of your life. What would you do?

  58. 1

    What are the three biggest mistakes you see people making when launching on Product Hunt?

  59. 1

    Do you ever think you'll open up PH to public comments? I understand the invite system protects the integrity of the community, but it also blocks out a lot of folks who are on the outside of the tech community "bubble" looking in.

  60. 1

    Why you against learning to code?

  61. 1

    ProductHunt is a highly respectable and very big community. I was happy to witness the new release called "ProductHunt Deals' from PH team but then I noticed that you guys collaborated with StackSocial as an affiliate and started offering the same old deals which are already being promoted by other affiliates like TNW, Mashable etc. It doesn't at all suit the brand image of PH. Why can't you offer your own exclusive deals like what AppSumo or Siftery guys do?

    Thank you.

  62. 1

    Hey Ryan! What have you learned about leveraging a community to grow new categories?

    For example PH has steadily introduced additional feeds, a jobs board and Q&A. How do you leverage the community to grow those new categories?

  63. 1

    I am focused but I am not able to complete my side hustle. Always I am changing my ideas in between and start developing something. How to change this behavior and focused to complete one? Any valueable tip?

  64. 1

    Not necessarily in any order, who are the top 10 indie makers you are most inspired by?

  65. 3

    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

    1. 3

      Talk to your audience and involve them in the building process! We did this early on, sharing mockups and gathering early feedback from beta users along the way. It helped inform our product decisions and made the community part of the process itself.

      Plug: this is what Ship is for, to help connect makers and users (i.e. their community), pre and post-launch.

  66. 1

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  70. 1

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    1. 9

      That you have a serious addiction ;)

      1. 1

        This comment was deleted 2 years ago.