Much-buzzed-about startup Product Hunt has another trick up its sleeve — it turns out the startup is in the current Y Combinator batch. As a reminder, Product Hunt is a community-powered news website for tech product launches. It’s a website where you can submit, upvote and comment on today’s new tech products. And it has quickly become the center of the conversations for many influential tech people.
“I was actually not intending to apply to Y Combinator,” Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover told me in a phone interview. “Product Hunt started surfacing during the previous Y Combinator batch because founders told each other to upvote their products. Nicolas [Dessaigne] from Algolia DM’d me and said ‘hey, some of the partners — like Garry Tan — want to meet you.'”
Algolia is a French startup who participated in Y Combinator’s winter batch — I covered its search API that turns your website’s search feature into a turbocharged real-time search engine. Both Product Hunt and CrunchBase use Algolia.
“I didn’t know if i wanted to continue bootstrapping it and grow it slower,” Hoover said. He also met Kat Manalac before she became a partner at Y Combinator. Manalac was Chief of Staff of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. In the end, “it was too good of an opportunity,” Hoover said. This way, the small startup will receive a bit of funding and useful advice from Y Combinator partners.
The startup is introducing an invite system so that existing community members can invite other people directly
Since my previous post on Product Hunt, Y Combinator’s Hacker News has launched a new section called Show. It’s a page to filter out “Show HN” posts, where startup founders and hackers show their own work to the Hacker News community. Many have jumped to the conclusion that Y Combinator was copying Product Hunt. But it seems to be more complicated as Product Hunt is part of Y Combinator.
“My perspective is very different,” Hoover said. “Show HN has been around way before Product Hunt, and it’s been one of the many signals that drove the validation of a service like Product Hunt. It’s been around forever, it just makes sense to spin it out.”
Moreover, the Hacker News community is very different. There are more engineers who tend to like developer tools, and less product people like on Product Hunt. There is a bit of overlap between the Show section and Product Hunt, but overall it’s just another way to communicate about your product. The more the better.
When I asked what’s next for Product Hunt, Hoover said that he was mostly focused on listening to user feedback to make small improvements to the site. Recently, there have been two major pieces of feedback.
First, Product Hunt is still an invite-only site. You can’t comment if the Product Hunt team didn’t approve your account. That’s why many people feel left out. To fix this, the startup is introducing an invite system so that existing community members can invite other people directly. Everyone will also be able to submit a product — the team will moderate the submissions.
Second, there is a lack of diversity on Product Hunt. It’s mostly white men talking to white men. “The reason for that is that Product Hunt started out with people in my network, which is still largely guys,” Hoover said. “But we’ve been actively reaching out to women in the community to ask ‘what women do you feel we should give access to comment.’ It takes a lot of time and it’s hard to show progress.”
The most impressive number is that people click 560,000 times on Product Hunt links every month to discover new products
And then, there is the upcoming iOS app that TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez wrote about. Product Hunt has been collecting feedback from community members to take the best design decisions. The app should be available in a few weeks. The company will also release an API.
When it comes to numbers, the site has been up 75 percent month-over-month in unique visitors since January. And growth is accelerating as traffic has doubled in the past 30 days. But the most impressive number is that people click 560,000 times on Product Hunt links every month to discover new products — that doesn’t even count people sharing direct links to products after discovering them on Product Hunt.
In other words, Product Hunt’s traffic is growing, people want to get access, and its leaderboard is becoming a daily must-read for those in the tech industry. The company is even inspiring other sites when it comes to design, such as Service Safari, Sprout Guild, Writersblock and even 9gag’s forum — Hoover actually likes that people are reusing his design mechanisms. And now, Y Combinator’s network will help the team create a sustainable community. It seems like Product Hunt is here to stay.