Launching on Product Hunt - our authentic experience at Hera

Launching on Product Hunt - our authentic experience at Hera
Hera Product Hunt Launch

We launched Hera Calendar on February 1st 2022 - 5 months after we decided to pivot - and ended up Product #2 of the day.

Most articles about Product Hunt tend to make you feel like the launch is the beginning of everything for your company.

I'm not saying it's not - it is a major accomplishment and a booster - but I also wanted to share what the reality is, a few weeks after we launched.

Here’s our authentic experience of launching on Product Hunt. Hopefully it can be useful to other founders!

1/ The strongest driver of success: preparation

We already launched on Product Hunt once - 8 months ago, before we pivoted to build a calendar app. This first launch happened shortly after we started YC and our partners kept telling us that the sooner you launch, the better. It was a great advice because it helped us realize our positioning was off - but we did not have time to prepare well our launch. The D Day was super painful because we did not have any strategy in place.

So for that second launch, we started the preparation one month ahead. Preparation was driven by 3 topics:

1/ Raising awareness on the product

To hype our idea and make people excited about Hera, we created an upcoming Product Hunt page - potentially interested people could subscribe to that page and get informed once we launched.

A few weeks before the launch, we’ve also used LinkedIn and Twitter to share sneak peeks of the product.

2/ Building a list of potential upvoters

This was the major improvement from our first launch. We listed in an Airtable all the people potentially interested in Hera.

It could be investors, YC teammates, influencers, people from our waitlist, our current users, people who upvoted similar products on PH, our social network followers, etc.

A few weeks before the launch, we reached out a first time to these people and invited them to subscribe to Hera upcoming page on PH.

I found that what was super helpful in that step is to decide early through which canal each person would be contacted (slack, email, twitter, etc.) and add the relevant link/ email etc. so that on D Day the outreach is smooth. We also assigned each person to a Hera team member who would be responsible for the outreach.

3/ Preparing for D Day

On D Day, you'll be replying to comments, contacting people and fixing bugs in your product. Everything needs to be ready so that you can be on autopilot on that day.

For us, it meant preparing all the social media posts we would post on D Day. We also prepared answers to the most frequent questions on competition, security, and other hot topics! Lastly, we prepared the messages we would send to each type of upvoter so that we would have a template to tweak for each person.

This massive preparation is probably what helped us go viral in the first hours!

2/ The cheat code to a great launch: a large existing community

As a founder, you want to believe that people all over the world will be interested and supportive of your product once you post it on Product Hunt. Unfortunately that's not the case - at least it was not the case for Hera!

Our community is what helped us reach the #2 that day - our users went on Product Hunt, commented, upvoted and shared the news on social networks. And they were willing to help because we had spent the last 6 months listening to their feedback, shaping the product with them etc.

Being user-centric compounds over time, and shows outstanding results in moments like a launch.

We got 200 comments - 90% came from our existing community / network.

This is what enabled us to be listed in the top products in the morning and only then we got the chance to be looked at by organic PH traffic.

So my advice would be to build a community first, and launch after.

3/ Product Hunt does bring massive traffic to your product

Here are our numbers from D Day:

  • 300 new users

It is a lot, and it does not end once the race is over. One week later, we had an additional 300 users signing up on the product and we continue 3 weeks later to have inbound from Product Hunt. After the launch, we were also featured in a bunch of newsletters bringing more sign ups.

4/ But it also creates a lot of noise in your users base

Unquestionably, Product Hunt puts your product under the spotlights.

But a few weeks after we launched, we realized the activation rate from the cohorts of users coming from PH was twice lower than our usual activation rate”

That's mostly because a good portion of users signing up on D Day are not well targeted (don't have the pain point we're trying to solve, don't have early adopter mindset, etc.) or are just curious to see how the product looks like. They don't retain, and we actually shouldn't try to retain them.

We thought that Product Hunt would be a kickstart to a sustainable growth loop.

But as the percentage of qualified users is pretty low, it does not bring as much growth as expected.

That's something people don't talk much about. But I think it is worth to keep it in mind.

Product Hunt does not bring sustainable growth - It helps you iterate and see what's working well and what's not in your product, at scale.

Investing in actual growth channels like content marketing, in product virality etc. is probably what will enhance sustainable growth.

I hope my take on Product Hunt will be useful to other founders thinking about their public launch.

If you have any additional questions, I'm always available to chat!
Here is my Hera:[email protected]/casual-chat

Thanks for reading 👋