"It is better to have a cat"—how to have a successful launch on Product Hunt
A launch on Product Hunt, the startup aggregator, is a good way to attract the attention of international media and investment funds. At the same time, the mere fact of being listed there is not enough. Veronika Lindorenko, OneSoil marketing specialist, explains how to prepare for the launch and what not to do during the hunt using the example of the OneSoil Map.
"It is better to have a cat"—how to have a successful launch on Product Hunt
A launch on Product Hunt, the startup aggregator, is a good way to attract the attention of international media and investment funds. At the same time, the mere fact of being listed there is not enough. Veronika Lindorenko, OneSoil marketing specialist, explains how to prepare for the launch and what not to do during the hunt using the example of the OneSoil Map.
* The article was initially published on Probusiness.io
Product Hunt is a community, an international Internet platform where IT-developers present their new products and technologies and get familiar with interesting projects of their colleagues. For the product to attract attention, it needs to receive as many upvotes from users as possible within 24 hours.
– On October 23, 2018 we posted a presentation of our interactive OneSoil Map on Product Hunt. We received 1,563 voteswhich is unprecedented for an AgTech product. We want to share our experience so that our colleagues can follow our advice and avoid making our mistakes.

Before placing your product on Product Hunt, think of how this site can be useful to you. If you have an interesting and clear product that can be explored and understood in a couple of minutes, then Product Hunt can be a great start. This is important because during the launch day you will compete with very different products, for example, with entertainment applications like TikTok, hardware like Angee, browser extensions, video editors and password managers.

If you have a complex software, which requires reading dozens of tutorials and multiple interactions with technical support, then it is better to choose another way to promote. For example, advertising on Facebook or Google Ads, posts on FAQ forums like reddit.com, quora.com, SEO or ASO. It may also involve participating in meetings and conferences, direct sales through LinkedIn. Articles on thematic sites also work just fine. Everything is very individualistic. To give a good piece of advice on the marketing of an IT product, you need to study the particular case thoroughly.
The OneSoil main product is a free precision farming platform for farmers, agronomists, and consultants. For an average user, it is quite difficult to understand the usefulness and grace of the product
Therefore, our team created an interactive OneSoil Map, which demonstrates the technologies we use in the development of our core products in a clear and comprehensible way.

Why do you need Product Hunt?

There are three reasons to launch the product on Product Hunt:

1. This is a good way to present yourself. Product Hunt is a world-famous startup aggregator and is especially known in the USA and Western Europe. With its help, you can spread the word about a new product to numerous platform users: product creators, news media, investors, and businessmen. The last 3 categories of Product Hunt users track successful startups and may offer collaboration if they are interested in the project. For example, we were looking both for business contacts and contacts with American journalists.
The OneSoil Map Experience on Product Hunt in numbers:
  • Launched on October 23
  • Received 1,563 upvotes
  • Got covered across dozens of news media sites and hundreds of posts in social networks
  • Received about 300 letters with collaboration offers, helpful comments, and compliments
As a result, we received several hundred letters with a call for partnership from large agricultural companies: equipment and fertilizer sellers, as well as manufacturers. There were also letters from universities that study agriculture and analyze satellite imagery. Also, we received offers on business collaborations from banks and non-profit organizations from all around the world. Many private investors and funds that had previously looked at us, the startup from Belarus, with suspicion, offered us cooperation.

2. This is an opportunity to get feedback from colleagues who understand the value of your product. Product Hunt allows you to get feedback from app developers who also posted their product on this platform. And also, from people interested in the topic of your product: product managers, designers, CEOs, and other people from tech.
These comments will help you understand the value of the product, whether you are heading in the right direction and which points require your close attention
For example, some users wrote to us about the high and low accuracy of crop recognition, which is very important for our Data Science team and also helps to improve the algorithm's performance.

3. You may be noticed by investors. Products that get the first place or appeal to the Product Hunt team automatically get on the mailing list that is sent to all platform users. This significantly increases the possibility of your product being noticed by media and investors. All letters are transformed into posts on a separate web site page and stored for quite a long time. Our product was not included into this newsletter, but the decision of the Product Hunt team may be subjective.

To be successful on Product Hunt

In our opinion, there are several points that you need to do in order for the launch to be successful:

1. Develop a clear and interesting product and think carefully about its presentation. Don't forget that you have to compete with very different applications. In our case, as I said, it was an interactive map.
OneSoil Map_OneSoil Blog
2. Choose the right time for the product launch. The voting time is limited, and the more a product is exposed to Product Hunt members, the more votes you may have. Hence, the more likely you will get to the top 10 startups of the day and appear on the Product Hunt main page during the day.In the blog, the Product Hunt founders advise launching the product at 00:01 PST (at 10:00 Minsk time). This will give you 24 hours to collect upvotes. The end of the race is at 23:59 PST.

We also reviewed the data on the weekly activityof Product Hunt users and published the OneSoil Map on Tuesday at 10:00.
График активности пользователей Product Hunt_Блог OneSoil
Activity of Product Hunt user's by day ot the week_OneSoil Blog
3. Create a striking visual (gif thumbnail, screenshots, video). Even if your product is not the easiest one, you need to think about presenting all its features in a clear and attractive way. For this, we created 4 screenshots and a funny picture with a cat, which anyone could share on social networks.

It is very important to prepare a catchy thumbnail that will stand out among other products published the same day. For us, the best choice was a GIF. Since many fields in our product look like paintings, we took the work of abstract artist Pete Mondrian (many said that our fields look like his pictures) as a basis. We asked in the gif: "Mondrian?", and replied: "No, these are fields and crops," and we put the OneSoil logo at the end.

4. Write a nice description. Both the tagline and project description should be clear and catchy, with a call to action. Product creators should also prepare an introduction, where they give credits to the team members and provide info about their product.

5. Prepare a list of all the contacts in advance. On launch day, you need to make noise in the news, and for this, you need to establish connections with the media in advance. We made agreements with Belarusian, American, European media and journalists; the PR partner of Bulba Ventures (the fund that invested in us) helped us with it – so we used all available resources. However, due to the fact that we completed the map on the very day of launch on Product Hunt, not all the media had a chance to explore it and share the info.
As a first step, develop a product, test it, write a press release in different languages, and then connect to journalists
It is very important to remind everyone about the launch a few days before and one day before it. Here is a list of resources that published articles about us, it may be useful for you too: dev.by, 42.tut.by, bel.biz, kyky.org, tech.eu, zdnet.com, bigthink.com, cnet.com.
Рост количества голосов на Product Hunt в течение дня_Блог OneSoil
Chart of votes dynamics on Product Hunt during the day_OneSoil Blog
6. Take advantage of the power of influencers. Assemble a list of people who have many subscribers and who could be interested in your product, and ask them to write about it on their social networks. These could be your investors, marketeers, startup cofounders, developers. Look also for thematic Telegram and Slack channels and ask to support you on launch day. There are also Facebook groups, communities in the VC, subreddits, forums and opinion leaders on Twitter. Use all channels to the maximum.

For example, we asked the creators of such channels as TechSparks, City Data, All-in-One Person | Technology, software and all that, NeuroHive to write about our map. They all responded and supported us.
It is important to understand who could be the perfect ambassador for your product and to find the right approach to this person.
We think that our letter to Artemy Lebedev (a famous Russian designer and Blogger) was our best move. At a certain point, Sasha Yakovlev, co-founder of OneSoil, began writing letters to Elon Musk, Richard Allen Garriott, Artemy Lebedev, asking them to take a look at the OneSoil Map and support us on Product Hunt. We didn't expect anything special, but the next day Artemy posted information about the OneSoil Map in all of his social media accounts: Telegram, VK, Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal. His posts went viral, and on the same day many Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian media outlets wrote about the map. This gave us a huge PR boost and generated a lot of traffic to map.onesoil.ai.

What to avoid

Of course, not everything was as smooth as it might seem. Retrospectively, here are some lessons learnt:

1. Attracting too many new users. It is better if the platform's dinosaurs upvote your product, other product makers rather than those who registered on the day of your release and only voted for your product. This may affect the application's rating (read more about this here).

Founder of Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover, also said in his Twitter account that the algorithm recognizes dishonest actions and "punishes" the maker. A direct call to vote is recognized by the algorithm as hacking, and can result in your rating being reduced.
Ask for support, not for an upvote
Create a list of 20-30 Product Hunt leaders who may be interested in your topic, and contact them in advance. Tell them about the product and ask for feedback.

2. Collecting a lot of upvotes without going to the project page. It's good if people don't just vote, but go to your page, study the product, and then vote. It is even better if they leave a review or add a comment which will lead to an active discussion among Product Hunt users. Our hunter, Chris Messina, wrote to me about this on the day of publication, when we had already been lowered in the rating.
Picture with a cat for Product Hunt_OneSoil Blog
Tips for everyone
Prepare a to-do list according to which you will act on launch day; you won't have time to think
Prepare all marketing materials and a list of platforms where you will promote your page on Product Hunt beforehand
Place your product in the Ship project. Here you can talk about the product, gather a loyal audience and get feedback for the trial version of your product
Read how "the hunt' for the product is conducted on the Product Hunt blog
On the product page, add the button with an offer to support you and a hyperlink to the Product Hunt page. But do not ask "to vote"
Prepare individual messages for different communities
Use Twitter actively – it is one of the most popular social networks in the US and Western Europe. Mention users in your Tweets but do not write direct messages, there is a fine for it
Ask friends and acquaintances to comment on your posts and quickly respond to all comments – this will positively affect your rating on Product Hunt
Prepare a press release for journalists and post it on the product's site
Send a newsletter to the users of your product, if they already exist
Prepare nice pictures for social media (it is better to put a Product Hunt logo and a cat there:)
Boost the profiles of the product makers: subscribe to the newsletter, vote for other products for at least three days
Add sharing buttons (FB, Twitter) with a snippet that includes a nice picture and text about the product
Join a Maker chat to Product Hunt and spread the word about your product there
Prepare FAQs to answer user questions. This will speed up the answering process in the comments

And here is something else

Except for the creators of PH, nobody knows how the algorithm truly works, and many of the tips are based on the mistakes made by the makers. The most important thing is not to act in a way that may seem suspicious to Product Hunt. Try to keep the traffic balanced, do not solicit votes and make friends with the Product Hunt community.
Update from the OneSoil Team

On the day of the launch, our project was ranked fifth. Despite this, in December 2018, the Product Hunt team named the OneSoil Map as the product of the year in the AI & Machine Learning category. Always fight to the end, fellows✋
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