February 15, 2014

Startup Storytelling

Product Hunt was born 100 days ago. From the beginning, I wanted to share its story in public along the way. Storytelling done well is fantastic marketing but that’s not my only motivation. I do it to give back by sharing the learnings, thought process, and strategies used to build and grow the product. Entrepreneurs rarely share their story in public — and often for good reason. But I admire those that do.

Storytelling Startups

No company is more transparent than Buffer. It’s founder, Joel Gascoigne, has blogged about his company since the beginning, sharing how he came up with the idea to an apologetic postmortem of a security breach. And Joel’s not the only one. His cultural influence shines through in his team as they write with transparency and honesty.

In early 2013 Danielle Morrill announced the death of her “zombie startup”, Referly. Few have the courage to admit this to themselves, let alone in public. Over the next 10 weeks, she blogged every day, writing the kernels of what eventually became Mattermark. Although she infrequently publishes new essays now that she’s operating a company, her recent essay captured her startup’s struggle, undoubtedly resonating with other founders that have faced similar challenges and fears.

Adii Pienaar is one of the most generous entrepreneurs I know, frequently offering his help to others. His generosity and empathy extends into his writing, sharing his strategies used building PublicBeta and his decision to put his startup on pause.

Product Hunt in 5 Stories

I’ve published five essays on Product Hunt’s story. Here they are:

  1. Announcing Product Hunt (November 6, 2013)
  2. The Wisdom Of The 20-Minute Startup (December 9, 2013)
  3. Hunting for habits: Keying in on smart design to make an irresistible product (December 19, 2013)
  4. How We Got Our First 2,000 Users Doing Things That Don’t Scale (January 7, 2014)
  5. Five Hard Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting Up (February 10, 2014)

I’m not saying everyone should write their startup story in public. Many should focus on building over blogging. That said, I encourage founders to do so and in turn, they will gain respect, attract attention, and contribute to the startup community.

If interested, more of the Product Hunt story is shared in the press, through editorials and interviews:

To follow along, subscribe or follow me on Twitter (@rrhoover).

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