How we screwed-up ProductHunt launch

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A month ago, we decided to launch EnigmaLink – our file-sharing application on ProductHunt. Neither of us used ProductHunt before, but I found a friend who could do the submission. I thought it would be straightforward.

If you never heard of ProductHunt but did hear of Slashdot, ProductHunt is a Slashdot for new (mostly web/mobile) products. The main principle of ProductHunt is to build a community as only members of the community can edit the website: enter new products and comment on existing entries.

We had an item list of what we needed to create and off we went:

Name:
EnigmaLink
Link
https://enigmalink.io
Tagline
Send private files with a click or QR code. Simple sharing of files between devices, through a secure channel or simply on the Internet or social networks. The security is provided with three locks: encryption in sender’s browser, a key encrypted with Enigma Bridge cloud encryption service (cloud HSM service) and an optional password that is resistant to offline attacks.
Topics
Productivity, Privacy, user experience, get shit done, web, mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows
Paste a direct link to an image or a YouTube video
<9 pictures – screenshots >
+ YouTube video (a Vimeo copy: https://vimeo.com/170466312)
Status
Available Now

Job done! All we had to do was to send it to ProductHunt, or that’s what we thought. Anyway, we agreed the time and date for the submission and also talked to a few more friends to upvote us within an hour or so.

Disaster 1

10 minutes before the agreed time, my friend started copying stuff to the ProductHunt forms. He realised that adding content is not so easy. Also, our “tagline” long – even the first sentence “Send private files with a click or QR code.” was too long. On the spot, I tried to come up with shorter versions – they were all too long – and ended up with “Simple sharing of files with QR code“.

We got there at the end but sure enough, my colleagues had quite a few words for me afterwards that there is no “security” word in the title.

Disaster 2

30 minutes after the agreed time, the EnigmaLink was finally submitted. Unfortunately, the look of the product page was awful. producthunt1

That’s the main banner and the rest of the page was empty. The black space comes from the video and true enough, it was what it looked like on YouTube. The picture in the corner – a randomly selected picture from the “media set”.

We tried to figure out if we can change the banner – we couldn’t, not even the person who created the entry. I went to YouTube and at least changed the video thumbnail picture there – the YouTube cache took some time to refresh.

People said that the community was great – now was definitely the time to let them know we existed. I got in touch with a messaging button on the website and managed to get the small picture changed within about an hour.

producthunt2

On our side, no-one was really willing to share the link as the page still looked a bit like a phishing page, which no-one would dare to click at. It took another two days to get the banner right. Administrators reply relatively quickly, and 3+ people were usually “listening”. I figured out a few problems, though:

  1. The people managing the website lived in a different time-zone from Europe;
  2. Once you send a message, it will connect you to one of the admins and the conversation continues only with that person. If she/he goes offline, you had to wait or re-start the conversation from the beginning.

Disaster 3

producthunt3This is more-less a result of the difficulties we encountered. We finally had a reasonably looking product entry – 2 days down the line. There is not much you can at this point in time. The space under the banner can only be filled by ProductHunt members as only they can comment. As we were nowhere near the top of new entries, the chance of being spotted is very small. As such, there would be no traffic coming to the application and basically, the game is over.

Lessons

  1. Use the messaging button on the ProductHunt page well before you submit a product, find as much as you can about the inner workings and let the people there know that you exist.
  2. There is some presence of ProductHunt folks on Twitter – another channel to learn and get ready before you submit.
  3. Ideally, find someone who is very active on ProductHunt to submit your product and also to enter the first comment to fill in the page.
  4. If you have a YouTube video – make sure the thumbnail is what you want it to be.
  5. Try it the first time with something you don’t care that much about – it’s still likely to be a steep learning curve.

There are a number of other ways to let people know about your work and the company so don’t panic when things go wrong here:)

 

Published by

Dan Cvrcek

Founder and CEO of Enigma Bridge, engineer, entrepreneur, cryptography SME, security architect, and professor.