The Right Way to Launch: Product Hunt’s Ryan Hoover on Getting Started

Chase Jarvis talks to Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt.

CJLive is your window into the world of some of today’s top creative entrepreneurs.

During this week’s installment, Chase Jarvis spoke with Product Hunt founder, Ryan Hoover. Ryan started Product Hunt as a simple email newsletter, but it quickly caught fire and grew into an online tastemaker. In November 2016 it sold to AngelList for $20 million.

Ryan’s experience of building Product Hunt and spending years behind the scenes gave him a bird’s eye view into a crucial inflection point in the life of any product: its launch. Find out what Ryan had to say about the right way to start out any product or project:

Chase: You watch how stuff is launched every day and have for years and years. Presumably you’ve seen it done really well and you’ve seen it done poorly. This community is a community of makers and so if you were to give not just professional advice, but life advice, conceptually tell us the best way to launch ways, or a good way, and tell us some crappy ways. What are some patterns you’ve seen?

You’ve had a front row to some of the biggest hits on the internet. So what does it look like, what does it not look like?

Ryan: Yeah, I think one of the things that doesn’t get as much attention, there’s advice like, “Make sure your tagline, or copy, “or marketing landing page is clear and concise,” and all of that’s true, but the things that I think people don’t talk as much about is more about how do you start building an audience, or a community, or people who are excited about this space that you’re operating in before you actually build your product?

Chase: Think about what you said with Product Hunt.

Ryan: Exactly.

Chase: Five minutes ago, you were like, you had a group of 100 people. It’s not like you had 10 million followers. You had 100 people that you were designing for, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Chase: Is that what you mean?

Ryan: Yeah, exactly, so Product Hunt wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have, if I wasn’t writing prior and building this audience who was made up of people who love tech, and of course, and building a thing for people who love tech, so I think that’s something that people can take away even today, and say, you may not know what you’re going to build. Even the product, or the startup or whatnot, but you can today, start building an audience, and I don’t mean that in a transactional way, like, “I’m gonna be a self-promotional marketer,” but more in the sense that, can you create something of value for a community of people, whether it’s a podcast or a video show, or write, or host meet-ups. There’s a bunch of different things that you can do to gain respect among a group of people. And if you start doing things that you’re passionate about in that type of context, you’ll find and attract people who are passionate about the same things as you, and that will not only be your first people to talk to to get feedback, but they’ll be your first users, first customers, you know, they might even be the people that you hire in the future. Some of the people who were early Product Hunt users, like Andreas is our CTO, and he was initially a Product Hunt user to begin with. So, I think building this audience and creating value for a certain group of people is super important.

For more CJLive and to check out the whole conversation, head on over to Chase’s website.

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Rachel Gregg