Recently, tech blogs went crazy over a simple app called “Yo” that reportedly raised $US1 million from Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg. But some of the top venture capitalist firms and entrepreneurs learned about the app — which lets users simply message “Yo” to friends — weeks ago on a site called Product Hunt.
Product Hunt, founded by Ryan Hoover, is used by a lot of familiar names in Silicon Valley and New York: Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Raptor Ventures, Betaworks, SV Angel, Y Combinator, 500 Startups (Dave McClure), Techstars, Index Ventures, First Round Capital, Google Ventures (Kevin Rose, MG Siegler), Dave Morin, VaynerRSE, Cowboy Ventures, Ashton Kutcher, Greycroft, Andrew Chen and others.
The site looks like Hacker News or Reddit, with up and down votes to signal which new products are most popular. But instead of sorting through news articles or photos, Product Hunters can expect to find apps that have just bubbled up, like a crowd-sourced Google Play or App Store.
Product Hunt features 20-40 new products every day that are hand-picked by 2% of its users. The users are trusted individuals in the techsphere, including investors, founders and designers. Hoover is rolling out an invite feature that will let admins bring more trusted people into the daily selection process.
Products get one line to explain what they are, then a link to the website. Other users can comment on the products and the founders are often asked to chime in to create an “Ask Me Anything” style thread. The founders then take that feedback and either tweak their prototypes or seek funding.
Yo was first listed on Product Hunt by Dan Leveille, a product marketing manager at DeviantArt, on May 19. That’s one month before Twitter started chattering about the app.
Leveille found Yo on Facebook, posted by prolific tech blogger Robert Scoble. Scoble called it “the stupidest but most addicting app ever.” Soon, other tech influencers started chiming in on Product Hunt and Yo was pushed to the top of the site with 71 upvotes.
“This app is completely hilarious. One of my favourite finds from last week,” Path founder Dave Morin wrote of Yo on Product Hunt. Joey Flynn, lead designer of Facebook’s new Slingshot app, says he also saw Yo on Product Hunt first.
Yo isn’t the only hot new product to be discovered on Hoover’s budding platform. TapTalk, a photo and video sharing app that inspired Facebook’s Slingshot product, first surfaced on Product Hunt on April 11. It was posted by Hoover and was upvoted by Google’s Kevin Rose and Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai. SV Angel noticed the app there then led its seed round.
“This has been the most used app on my phone (second only to email, but there’s nothing fun about that) for the past 3 weeks,” an SV Angel associate wrote on the TapTalk Product Hunt thread. “It’s replaced texting for most of my closest friends.”
Other early-stage startup deals that have been sourced on Product Hunt include Index Ventures’ investment in Move Loot and Steadfast VC’s investment in Fitbay.
Hoover launched the first version of Product Hunt in November with a product manager at General Assembly, Nathan Bashaw. The first version was a simple email that took 30 miniutes to put together. Hoover and Bashaw noticed open rates and engagement were unusually high at 45% and a 13% click-through rate, respectively. Now Hoover is running and bootstrapping Product Hunt full-time. Bashaw stayed at General Assembly.
Since November, Product Hunt’s subscribers have grown to 26,000. Hoover receives 300 emails per day from VCs and product people who want to get their projects featured on his site. Visits to Product Hunt have grown 90% in the last 30 days.
Here’s what today’s Product Hunt email looks like. It’s focused on a big product release from Twitter, which recently said GIFs can now be shared in tweets: