Some of the best products and services are ones that are simple and “remove barriers” for things people are already doing, according to the founder and chief executive of Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover.
Speaking to StartupSmart from San Francisco, Hoover, a Y Combinator alumnus, said the products that excite him the most are ones that speak for themselves.
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He also let slip that a startup’s website crashing due to too much traffic from Product Hunt is – half-jokingly – one of his favourite things. That’s what happened to Australian startup ShipYourEnemiesGlitter recently, after receiving a “hug of death” from the internet after going viral on Reddit and Product Hunt.
— Jason Zook (@iwearyourshirt) December 9, 2014
“I like the variety [on Product Hunt] in that you do see the silly glitter products but then you see arguably more impactful products,” he says.
“For example, Be My Eyes is a fascinating product – it’s an app to help blind people read things they can’t necessarily read. What’s fascinating about that particular product is that it enables people to help one another. I find that interesting because historically with technology we’re trying to remove people and use robots to solve our needs.”
Hoover says his advice to entrepreneurs is to communicate well with potential users, customers and investors.
“Don’t be too clever… whether it’s your copy or landing page or product design,” he says.
“Some people are really talented and they get really creative and come up with new ways to do things, but sometimes the known patterns in just plain-talking English are the best way to communicate or build a product. Usually the best taglines are the simplest ones.”
How to get featured on Product Hunt
As for how Aussie startups can get their products featured on Product Hunt, Hoover says to “just talk like a human”.
“That’s something I think a lot of people miss out on,” he says.
“The hardest thing right now isn’t building a good product or the product itself – the hardest part for some is getting attention. And if you can’t describe your product very simply, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
Hoover says this means having an easy-to-read tagline and also building authentic relationships.
“The landing page is important too as people only have a few seconds and are going to judge your product by that,” he says.
“And in terms of the makers or founders, don’t talk like a traditional scammy marketer – no offence to car salesmen. Encourage conversation… people appreciate transparency and honesty.”
Product Hunt finished up at Y Combinator – the accelerator responsible for startups such as Reddit and Dropbox – in August last year. Shortly afterwards the startup raised a Series A round of $US6.1 million ($A7.46 million).
Hoover says in 2015 he plans to grow his team as well as the site’s traffic and scope.
“Right now we’re focused on the startup space – that’s the kind of products we still want to focus on,” he says.
“But our longer term goal is to serve and cover other industries and markets, for example books and video games. We believe this model will work in these areas.”