Ryan Hoover is the founder of Product Hunt, a website that caters to early adopters who share their product discoveries—everything from their favorite books to business applications. The first iteration was built in just four days near the end of 2013, and has grown incredibly quickly. More than 200,000 people receive their daily email noting the latest products featured on the site (there are nearly 15,000 products listed). The site had 20 million unique visitors last year. And Hoover has raised more than $7 million in seed and venture funding. That’s as close to rocket ship growth as you’re likely to find anywhere in Silicon Valley.
While Product Hunt has been enormously successful, it’s not Mr. Hoover’s first attempt to create something useful. In high school he built his first website and tried to monetize it—making about $10 for his effort. After college he was working for PlayHaven, a business app for game developers, when he started an email list called Startup Edition which eventually became Product Hunt. And the rest is history.
Ryan has been interviewed many times and has offered plenty of advice to other would-be entrepreneurs thinking of doing their own thing. Here’s some of what he’s said that we find more inspiring:
“The best advice I can give is to build a product people want and clearly communicate what it does. Far too many makers invest their time building before validating assumptions. In many cases, you can save a lot of wasted effort by simply talking to users and testing hypotheses.”
“We still are really focused on the tech industry. Over time we’ll broaden out. But it’s a lot easier to build a strong community when it’s more focused than if it’s too broad.”
“Don’t be too clever… whether it’s your copy or landing page or product design.”
“I know it sounds cliché, but I was sick of building things for other people. It’s far more rewarding and easier to create something when you are the consumer.”
“Not everyone should start a company and not every idea needs funding.”
“It’s never been easier to build a product, but, as more are created, it becomes increasingly difficult to get noticed without a massive ad budget, pre-existing user base, or relationship with reporters.”
“Revenue is just a matter of figuring out how to do it right, not whether it’s going to happen.”
“Side projects give makers a blank slate to try out new technology, experiment with new design patterns, and market to a different audience without disrupting their existing product. Sometimes these learnings are transferred into their main product.”
“Almost every entrepreneur I know loves to brainstorm new ideas, often reminiscing the early days when they were still figuring out what to build. Side projects can ignite this entrepreneurial spirit and get a team excited.”
“The hardest thing right now isn’t building a good product or the product itself—the hardest part for some is getting attention. And if you can’t describe your product very simply, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
“I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see often times is people try to change behaviour too much or they try to introduce something that is too unusual for people. For us, it’s what behaviours exist out there and how can you improve upon those?”
“Before choosing to join YC and raising money, I asked myself, ‘Can I see myself working on Product Hunt for 10+ years?’ Once you take money, you’re committed for several years and owe it to your investors and team to give it 100.”
—Ryan Hoover, Founder of Product Hunt