How ProductHunt helped me go from “No-idea” to “Profitable” in 15 hours (including 6 hours of sleep).

Karim
5 min readDec 19, 2014

Wanted to start a business with recurring revenue that would take care of my monthly bills through a steady income and give me more freedom to work on bigger ideas (without me having to rely on outside funding). Here’s how Traction.VC (helping entrepreneurs grow their startup) got started.

December 15th, 2014, around 8pm

The Goal

There I am, sitting on my couch, watching The Mentalist on Netflix with one eye. Wanting to start a business that’d take care of my monthly bills on auto-pilot, but had no idea of what this business should be. Just a couple of directions I wanted it to take:

  • Needed to have recurring revenue
  • Needed to be something I would use myself
  • Needed to be simple to build
  • Shouldn’t cost me anything to set up (or at least not more than $30 or so)
  • Since I know how to get into communities that also have an interest in startups like myself I figured to do something in that space. (Go after low hanging fruit)

Note: These directions/rules I put on my brainstorming helped me incorporate growth at the core of the product. Instead of just coming up with a random or ‘cool’ idea, I wanted something that would grow fast by knowing the audience and the way to get the product in front of them. Low hanging fruit helps you kickstart your growth. It’s much harder to grow something for an audience you have yet to learn how to reach.

The Idea

I went to Amazon to check out which books are most popular around the topic of startups. A couple of top books were about traction. A topic I was interested in myself.

I’m not a growth hacker or a marketeer. I’m a product guy. So I tend to fall in the trap of working on new features, a nicer logo… the stuff that gives you immediate satisfaction and the ‘feeling’ of moving forward.

I’ve started many things and mostly failed in getting traction, except for a few. The way I got those couple of exceptions to grow was by taking a systematic approach to growth. Testing a couple of tactics each week, seeing which work and which don’t. (instead of randomly trying something once or twice and wondering why nobody comes)

So an idea was born: Help startups form a habit of working on growth. Not be the know-it-all-growth hacker with patent-pending-silver-bullet-growth-tactics. But providing a service that could help myself and others form a habit of testing different growth channels on a weekly basis.

2 years earlier I had registered the domainname Traction.VC when I was struggling to get traction on one of my other experiments. Figured it would come in handy some day. So… I went with Traction.VC

The Product

Took me about 2 hours to set up a webpage for this service (Could probably be finished sooner if I wasn’t watching TV). Some html, css, nothing fancy. No gazillion features. It was all about the pitch.

Hooked up Gumroad to the subscription button to instantly have a monthly paid subscription connected to the service.

The Launch

I launched Traction.VC and just before going to sleep, I sent it to a couple of people and tweeted @rrhoover about it. Didn’t have any expectations really, so I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

December 16th, 2014, 11:09am

Profitable

I was sitting on the train, coming back from an early meeting until I saw the first order coming in. Whoa? Someone actually paid me for this? More orders started rolling in throughout the day. Awesome!

I got a total of 10 orders the first day. Now this may seem like a little, but concidering I had 100+ people signup to receive a free sample and I had built this thing in 2 hours, this was a sign that there is some true potential there.

Feedback

A lot of people did not sign up because they missed a couple of pieces of information on the site. I took the comments seriously and worked on updating the site the same day. Which resulted in… more orders.

Users were sending me questions via email, producthunt comments, olark chat and I was improving the product in real-time. It was as if the product was being updated by its users.

3 Days After I Started

I had relaunched the website, now providing all the information based on the feedback I got from people.

By now I have new people joining the service every day. After putting free downloadable samples on the site many who signed up on the first day converted to paying customers. I have still not spent any money on Traction.VC yet it is growing beautifully.

It’s a good thing a service called ‘traction’ got some quick traction to help take it off. Now helping product-focused-entrepreneurs grow their business.

Join the community of entrepreneurs who are trying to get traction for their startup on: www.traction.vc

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Karim

﷽ ᠁ Founder @TractionVC, @Jibly, @Milksterdotcom ᠁ Storyteller, Inventor & Entrepreneur ᠁ Aiming To Leave Behind A Better World. #SadaqaJariya