arun thampi  /  writing  / 

is it still time to build?

Hacker News vs Product Hunt: A Launch Story

Originally posted on Medium

On July 15th 2015, Nestor was launched to the public on Hacker News and Product Hunt. The launch was a success with hundreds and hundreds of teams signing up to use Nestor serving tens of thousands of users. This post analyzes the launch strategy as well as the million dollar question — where should you launch: Hacker News or Product Hunt?

But before that, what the heck is Nestor?

Your Team’s Intelligent Assistant

Nestor is a bot platform that is your team’s intelligent assistant on Slack. So whether it be managing your calendar

or calling Ubers,

or searching for restaurants

or finding out what how much money your business makes or how many sign ups your website gets; Nestor has you covered.

What started off as a weekend hack was starting to get a lot of interest from a close set of friends and I decided it was to open Nestor’s doors to a larger audience.

Launch Day

I decided to launch on Hacker News and Product Hunt. This was a risk; as launching on social news sites is 50–50 (although my previous startup had a pretty successful launch on Hacker News three years ago)

Once again, the HN and PH audiences didn’t disappoint and Nestor was on the front page of Hacker News and Product Hunt on two consecutive days.

Thanks to everyone who upvoted for Nestor on Hacker News and Product Hunt! ❤

The Aftermath

Now for the big question: which channel performed better?

I’d integrated Mixpanel to Nestor pretty religiously on Day 1 of starting this project (as an aside, you can read about how to get Mixpanel right the first time), so it was fairly simple to analyze.

The results were a little surprising to me but here goes:

Hacker News drove almost 2x traffic

What was super interesting was that:

Product Hunt had almost 3.5x better Sign Up Conversion

What this means is that even though Hacker News drove double the raw traffic, eventually Product Hunt drove more users. It’d be interesting to figure out why that is.

Why did Product Hunt outperform Hacker News?

I have a few theories:

  1. The HN audience is generally more skeptical of new products that resemble toys or tools they can build themselves in a few hours (case in point: Dropbox’s launch all those years ago)
  2. ProductHunt has better ways to showcase your product (by that I mean the ability to add images and cover photos). As an aside, it’d be fascinating to see how many “views” a product on PH gets so we can calculate Product Hunt -> Landing Page conversions.

This launch demonstrated to me that although Hacker News drives more traffic than Product Hunt, the latter leads to more activations. In a couple of months, I’d like to post my findings on which channel provided more engaged/retained users.

In the mean time, if you’d like to have an intelligent assistant help you out in your Slack team, add Nestor to your Team.