On Wednesday, November 6, we debuted Telefuel on Product Hunt - the #1 community focused on sharing, discussing, and learning about new products.
We ended the day at #4 with around 250 upvotes, and saw a huge increase in daily signups, nearly doubling our registered userbase in the 2 days since launch.
In this post, I give some brief background on our project and Product Hunt, give some context on how we prepared for the launch, a recap of the launch itself, a review of the results, and I close with our note of thanks to everyone who supported Telefuel for the launch (seriously - big thanks there. See below for more).
Let’s jump into it.
First things first, for anyone unfamiliar, Telefuel is an unofficial chat client for Telegram - a privacy-focused chat app/network similar to WhatsApp.
Like WhatsApp, Telegram can be thought of as an alternative to texting or Facebook Messenger, with the added benefit of a bunch of great features, and a deep, principled focus on user privacy and security. (Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram isn’t owned by Facebook, so that’s a win. Fuck Facebook.)
As an “unofficial chat client”, Telefuel is essentially an alternative app Telegram users can use to log in, access, and organize their Telegram chats - kind of like how you can use Gmail, Apple Mail, or Outlook as alternative apps to view, access, and organize your emails.
With Telefuel, users have access to power features that give them increased speed, organization, and efficiency over the classic Telegram interface. Telefuel was designed for the professionals and power users on the Telegram network, while Telegram’s own official apps were designed for mainstream consumers using Telegram for personal communication.
Product Hunt, for anyone unfamiliar, is a community where people share, learn about, and discuss new products, mostly in the technology and software space.
Every day, new products are presented to the community, and people vote on the products they like the most that day (like a community poll).
The top products each day often see huge increases in exposure, traffic, and signups after going big on Product Hunt.
As we’ve been largely in beta since our first release in July, our Product Hunt launch this week was to be our big “stepping out” party so to speak.
We wanted to make a splash, announce Telefuel's arrival on the market, and, hopefully, spark the steepening of Telefuel's user growth and acquisition curves.
With those goals in mind, we went to planning. Here were the steps we took before the launch.
To give ourselves the best chance of having a successful launch, and to maximize on the exposure from launch, we took a few steps in preparation.
There’s a ton of great resources and content already written on how to do a successful Product Hunt launch, including these two from the official Product Hunt blog:
Between those two posts, all the nitty-gritty details of Product Hunt launches are essentially covered, so for this post I’ll just touch on a few of the broader action steps we took in preparation for launch.
This was the first thing we did. In their official documentation, Product Hunt insists that all submissions are created equal, and that submissions from “influential” community members don’t really make a difference.
In our experience so far, being hunted by a respected, active member of the Product Hunt community has made a difference, though less than before.
The reason: whenever a user submits a product on Product Hunt, all of their followers on the site get a notification alerting them that “Alan VanToai” (or whoever) just posted a new product.
Now, these followers used to get emailed every time one of their followed members submitted a new product, so the advantage used to be even greater.
But the fact remained - we liked the idea of going with an established member of the community for our Launch.
To that end, we did a bit of research, and came across a website that ranks the top Product Hunt community members based on different variables.
To our delight, he was 🙂 (Thanks Chris!)
Every Product Hunt submission is made up of a bunch of assets that you’ll need to prepare in advance, including things like the Name, Tagline, Website, Description, Thumbnail, Video, Images, and a bit more.
You can find the exact details the necessary assets in Product Hunt’s official How To Launch post, and as a bonus, you can use the tool Preview Hunt to test what all your assets are going to look like together once submitted.
To maximize the success of the launch, we wanted to spread the word to our friends, community, and subscribers/followers, so they could help support the listing once voting opened up.
In order to best maximize on the exposure gained through Product Hunt, we wanted to make sure our website and sign-up flow were optimized to be as simple and straightforward as possible for all of our new visitors and prospects.
Now, to be sure, optimizing a landing page is an ongoing practice that will continue to be tested, tweaked, and evolved over time, but in preparation for this launch, was made one key adjustment.
Before the launch, we were pushing website visitors to download Telefuel’s desktop apps for Mac/Windows/Linux, and we weren’t really driving people into our web app.
For launch, we wanted to change that around, and promote signing into the web app to be the primary experience, with options (and nudges) to download our desktop apps from there.
The hypothesis that we’re testing with this new signup flow is that, even though retention percentages might suffer (people who only sign-in via web will be more likely to not return, compared to people who download a desktop app), the decreased friction of signing into the web (vs downloading a desktop app) might be sufficient to cause a net increase in retained users.
With our Hunter on board, our assets and announcements in line, and our sign-up flow optimized, we were scheduled and ready for our Wednesday, November 6 (12:01am Pacific) launch.
Shortly after midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, submissions opened, and Chris submitted our product for voting.
Our scheduled blog posts and emails were published and sent, and we made our first-pass rounds posting in our community, company socials, personal socials, and in other relevant communities of entrepreneurs, makers, and developers that we’ve been a part of.
Having launched a midnight, it was a little past my bedtime as the votes started coming in. I followed along and did some personal outreach to friends and contacts on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram until 1:30am or so (at which time we were in 2nd or 3rd place), then went to bed.
When I woke up, I almost couldn’t resist the temptation to dive into my phone/computer and start checking our standings and stats. Alas - I hustled through abbreviated versions of my morning rituals before, checking in to the launch.
Throughout the day, we were essentially neck-and-neck with 3 other products vying for 2nd place (one product, Unicorn Platform, maintained a distant lead for 1st).
Rationally, I knew that finishing 2nd vs. 3rd or 4th wasn’t really going to make a huge difference in our business, but I couldn’t help trying to push, especially because we were so close throughout the day (ie, we would be in 4th, a mere 3 votes from 3rd place, and just 10 votes from 2nd place).
So I kept stoking the flames with (hopefully tasteful) personal outreach to friends, and follow on calls-to-action on social media and in our communities.
When the final votes were tallied, we ended strong in 4th place, with ~250 upvotes.
While yes, we were single-digits from 3rd place, and around 15-20 votes from 2nd, all it took was a scroll down the day’s submissions to feel grateful for the 4th-place finish: around 30 products were submitted that day, many of which got single-digit votes, and were left to be forgotten “below the fold” (Product Hunt only displays the top 10 products above the “Show More” button on any given day).
4th was a strong finish, and more importantly, the launch had a meaningful impact on our traffic and signups since.
Like any big press hit or other single event, we expected the “shark fin” effect of basically a huge spike in traffic and signups, preceded by a huge drop.
And while we definitely got the shark-fin on traffic, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the relatively sustained pace of signups since launch.
In fact, we had more signups the day after the launch (Thurdsay) than we had on launch day (Wednesday). And today (Friday), it looks like we have a realistic shot at matching the level of signups from Wednesday as well. Very cool!
All in all, this launch was a successful, valuable effort! Our registered user base nearly doubled, and while the jury’s still out on whether DAUs, retention, and revenue will follow, we’re optimistic and happy with the launch.
I want to take a minute to share my deep gratitude and appreciation for all of our friends and community who took the time to sign up (or log in) for Product Hunt and vote for Telefuel.
On their own, each vote was a small gesture, but in the aggregate, every vote added up to a create a meaningful impact in our business, and for that, we’re grateful.
And let’s be real: you could have easily not voted and slept just fine Wednesday night. But you did it anyway, without, really, any reasonable expectation of anything in return.
That’s meaningful to us, so big big big thanks for showing your support and helping us make this launch a success.