We’re big fans of consistency. Building a new business is a sporty journey, with a lot of surprises along the way, so we appreciate a little predictability when we have it. Our growth strategy shows that pretty strongly: we first put Hidden Founders out there by relying almost exclusively on networking, emails, and plain old one-to-one. It’s only very recently, when Hidden Founders ranked first on Product Hunt, that we had to put our love for predictable results aside for a minute, and just enjoy the ride.
In the past four months, we have skyped with at least five new prospective founders every day. It was hideously time-consuming and pretty much the opposite of scalable, and the applications came in slowly, but we still kept it up because it delivered consistent results. Talking to people gives you the opportunity to build your case and to respond to questions and feedback in real-time. You’re a person with a set of skills, not just a company name. That is already an advantage.
There are limitations, obviously. For one, no matter how much you stretch your resources, your reach is still inadequate. Since our client discovery tour was in Europe, most of the people we talked to were located there too. That is one of those things that a ranking in Product Hunt changes drastically about your business: you’re suddenly visible to the whole world. Countries you never had any contact with start lighting up on your map. We spotted mentions of Hidden Founders in unexpected places; we received applications in languages we can’t read (Thank you Larry for Google Translate).
Our analytics went a little crazy too, as you’d expect: The first few days, we received four thousand times more visitors than our daily average, and four times more applications than the last three months combined. There was a definite rise in attention from all the right parties, from successful startup founders to tech blogs to big names in the Silicon Valley. A pretty hectic week by our normally sedate standards.
All craziness aside, though, what we were happiest about was that new layer of validation that our model received. We didn’t have a whole page or a skype call to explain where we came from and what we wanted to do. We just had a one-line description and a link to the website, and it was enough for Product Hunt voters to be curious about our offer. People with incredible experience in the business took a look at Hidden Founders, and liked what they saw.
If you’re on display to a user base like Product Hunt’s and there’s something seriously wrong with your product or you model, there is a good chance they’ll see it right then. You’re challenged about every little thing; you provoke discussions about every issue related to your product. You get people talking.
Ultimately, it’s about validating our model. Talking with prospective founders helped achieve that, but in our mind, it’s a bit like nailing the SATs versus having good grades all through the year. Both are important and reflect on how well you are performing, but Product Hunt gives you a global, completely anonymous kind of validation that you just can’t have by simply talking to people face-to-face. We will absolutely, most definitely, stick a pin in every country we received an application from, and show you the result in a future post.