Last week I created mockups of an improved comment system for Product Hunt. The design certainly wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t even complete. But I shared them anyway and am glad I did.
I quickly discovered what they liked:
And best of all, new ideas to make Product Hunt even better:
I began to wonder why more startups aren’t doing this.
There are legitimate reasons not to be this transparent but IMHO, the majority of startups, especially those building a community, have more to gain than lose. By providing a sneak peak and involving users in the design process, founders can:
I’m not the only one building in public. In fact, there appears to be a growing trend in this direction.
Last year Monkey Inferno reacquired the once successful social network, Bebo, and set out to revive the brand through a series of apps. Instead of taking a traditional approach — building a product and revealing it to users for the first time months later — they created Bebo Insiders, a mobile app to give their anxious audience a preview of what they’re building. As the team iterates on their next mobile app, Bebo Insider users receive a push notification soliciting feedback. Within the app, fans can chat in real-time with the CEO himself, Shaan Puri, offering their input.
Sandi MacPherson, Editor-in-Chief of Quibb, is known for her authenticity and personal touch. This January she announced a friends and family round, giving the community an opportunity to invest in the company. Is there a better way to get users invested in the product than having them invest their own money?
When Matt Deiters, Assembly’s CEO, and I met up to chat about his new startup idea, I enthusiastically expressed excitement and skepticism of the crowd-building platform. Assembly-made products are literally built in public; crazy ambitious and potentially very disruptive. Its users submit product ideas and submissions that receive enough support, are designed and built by the community itself. Each project’s feature ideas, roadmap, contributions (designs, code, etc.), and financials are exposed to the world. But what’s most unique is that the people building the product, receive equity, compensation for their contributions.
Furthermore, we now have more tools to empower creators to build in public.
While not every startup can or should build in public, I appreciate those that do and look forward to seeing more companies funded, designed, and supported directly by their users in non-traditional ways. I’ve found tremendous value in feedback from the Product Hunt community and the positive influence sharing its story in public, has had in building community.
Will you build in public?
This essay originally appeared on The Next Web.