Pontificating on ProductHunt’s Possibilities

producthunt logoI got a resume from someone a few days ago who among other accomplishments mentioned they were a top commenter on ProductHunt.

Pretty cool.

And then when I saw a post on HN about ProductHunt vs. TechCrunch vs. HN and lots of negative HN’y type of comments, it became apparent ProductHunt was onto something.

I’ve also been seeing more commentary about the site as a deal sourcing vehicle for VCs so this resume, the Hacker News haterade and the VC sourcing angle finally got me to take a look.

And what I found was a small but growing community of product aficionados (surprise) over at ProductHunt who are quite active. Ryan Hoover (founder who based on his Twitter stream doesn’t sleep), has done a great job building up the community so far and is insanely engaged on PH. At present, the community is quite heavily controlled (in terms of who can have access / comment / submit a product), but it seems Ryan and team are opening it up. Starting small is smart.

So I wondered where this could go?

It’s of course a site that is getting picked over by VCs looking for “proprietary dealflow” but that is a very small opportunity. Hunter Walk of venture firm, Homebrew, has a good post on this topic and articulates against this type of focus for ProductHunt writing:

I hope PH takes steps to ensure investor interest/activity on the platform is not the validation for great products. More so than ever there are remarkable products (and businesses) where venture funding isn’t necessarily the appropriate end goal. Our industry often derisively calls these “lifestyle businesses.” To perpetuate the idea that the only products worth discussing are ones which attract VC interest is out of step with the massive entrepreneurial opportunities in the world today. And it’s never been easier to fill the gap between SBA loan and venture funding with crowdfunding, crowdborrowing, etc.

This is spot on.

Again, the VC market is small and price sensitive and doesn’t value informational advantage in a way that would allow PH to become a big business.

Hunter’s other point about an alternate fundraising vehicle that sits between SBA loans and VC is really interesting. I talked about one version of this here in a post about revenue-based financing.

I wonder if a Kickstarter for products and companies that have real products and a loyal community of users and customers might be interesting.  Maybe users could fund enhancements to a product or new capabilities or product extensions that the product owners suggest or that users come up with. In the user suggestions case, there are aspects that might resemble Quirky with the crowdsourcing of ideas for products.

And users of PH could collectively suggest and “vote on” such enhancements?

As an example, we’ve never raised money for CB Insights but there might be folks including customers who would fund a product capability that would make their lives better for something in return. That could be a % of revenue, interest (if treated like debt), and/or preferential access to the built capability.

I’m excited to see where ProductHunt goes. The VC hype is great, but selfishly, I’m interested in seeing if it can become an alternate funding mechanism for product-driven companies.

2 Thoughts on “Pontificating on ProductHunt’s Possibilities

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