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Product Hunt Thrives As a Startup Showcasing Startups Product Hunt is blowing up right now. We talked to founder Ryan Hoover to find out why.

By Jason Saltzman Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Product Hunt via iTunes
Product Hunt app

The world of consumer-product distribution is rapidly changing. Now more than ever, consumers have a voice: it's loud, it's powerful and it is awesome. The shady "Mad Men" style of putting a perfect bow on crap is rapidly changing into a world where people are getting stuff they actually want, and can use, and will make their lives better.

A startup called Product Hunt is BLOWING up. Product Hunt features new products and let's consumers essentially vote on them. The "upvotes" put the product in a unique position to show the world what it's doing. It's great for the consumers because they're honestly taking part in thought leadership, and it's great for the products and services that get exposure. One startup that works at AlleyNYC said that they got more traffic from Product Hunt than from being on a major television network. That's badass.

Product Hunt Thrives As a Startup Showcasing Startups

Image credit: Product Hunt

So, where did Product Hunt come from? I spoke with its founder, Ryan Hoover, to learn more:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Product Hunt?

A: I've always enjoyed playing with and discussing new products with friends and other product enthusiasts. This curiosity and passion for products was evident in my watercooler conversations with friends and across the web, including tech publications, Kickstarter, Twitter, and Hacker News. But I didn't know of a place dedicated for sharing and geeking out about the latest test products online.

Product Hunt started off as an email list and quickly I realized other people had the same enthusiasm and interest in this type of thing. I wrote more about Product Hunt's beginnings in a blog post.

Q: What is the best story you have about helping the growth of a startup?

A: Communities often die because they don't grow fast enough. At first people are excited to be a part of it, in part because its new. Inevitably, some will leave. Healthy communities need to continually grow, especially in the beginning when few people are engaged. We recognized this from the beginning and invested a ton in delighting our early adopters and growing the community.

Related: The 'Real Housewife' Who Is A Very Real Entrepreneur

We used a variety of tactics, many of which were entirely manual early on. Each day I would see who signed up on Product Hunt and send them a personal welcome email. Most people responded, surprised to hear from a real person. It's small things like this that made us memorable and welcoming. Growth isn't just about getting people in the door, but also delivering a good experience that makes them want to come back.

Q: What is your background?

A: I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, in an entrepreneurial family. My father has been starting companies since his mid-20's. This spirit undoubtedly rubbed off on me and since I was a child I've been experimenting with side projects and business ideas, the first being the gumball machines I used to operate out of my dad's video game store.

I went to the University of Oregon to study business and computer information technology, right before joining my first startup in the video game industry. About a year out of college I moved to San Francisco to join PlayHaven, where I worked until starting Product Hunt.

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Q: Product Hunt is a Y-Combinator startup. How has YC helped you grow Product Hunt:?

A: Y Combinator is extremely valuable. They provide funding, brand halo, a support group, and most importantly, mentorship. The great thing about YC is its ongoing support even after the three month program ends. We still have access to schedule office hours and a helpful network of thousands of fellow alumni.

Q: How do you register a product on Product Hunt?

A: Anyone can submit a product by simply providing its name, tagline, and link. These submissions are reviewed and some are published to the homepage. Unfortunately, not ever product submitted will reach the homepage, in part because of the explosion of contributions we're now receiving -- more than 200 every day. We're currently redesigning our submission process to make it more transparent and inclusive.

Q: What is the future for Product Hunt?

A: We've been fairly transparent in where we're taking Product Hunt, and over the past few months we've grown the team to 12 awesome people in preparation for expansion. Although Product Hunt is very tech-oriented — frequented by entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, investors, reporters, etc. — we see the opportunity to expand to other audiences and product categories.

There's an explosion of creation in technology and passion for tech products but other industries also exhibit these same characteristics. Long term you will see multiple communities of people discovering, sharing, and geeking out about their product obsessions. We also believe that as technology continues to bleed across verticals, we can become a conduit across industries.

So amazing: a platform that does so much for every person involved. I am super bullish on Product Hunt. As a consumer, you should 100 percent use the crap out of it, and if you happen to have a product or service, you should 1,000 percent list it. Just make sure it's a good product because you will get nada if it sucks. As the world evolves, I see our voices as consumers getting stronger and stronger with services like Product Hunt. Pretty soon, life will be filled with stuff we actually want! Until then, HUSTLE ON.

Related: What the Father of Lean Startup Thinks You Need to Start Up

Jason Saltzman

Startup Mentor, Entrepreneur, CEO of Alley

Jason Saltzman is a seasoned entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing. Through his role as CEO of Alley and as a TechStars mentor, he advises hundreds of startups, offering real-life practical application and creative marketing advice.  

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