Co-Creator of Product Hunt. EIR at Tradecraft. Creator of Startup Edition.

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Blogging is the New Resume

Can we all agree resumes are crummy? Can you really communicate your life’s accomplishments and skill-set through an 8.5x11 sheet of paper? Does anyone even read your resume anyway? These manufactured documents might help weed you out from the obvious “hell no” candidates, but do a poor job of communicating your capabilities. More often than not, hiring managers rely on trusted recommendations and evaluate applicants based on tangible things they have accomplished. And this is where GitHub shines.

GitHub can be a fantastic resume for software developers. The open platform showcases candidates’ creations, free to inspect and critique. Well-kept GitHub profiles exemplify one’s breadth and expertise in various programming languages and their contributions to open source and side projects, exemplify programmers’ eagerness to create. GitHub shows hiring managers what they have...

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Hunting for Habits: Keying in on smart design to make a product irresistible

Recently, Nathan Bashaw and I launched Product Hunt, a daily leaderboard of the best new products. As two product enthusiasts, we wanted to create a community to share, discover, and geek out about new and interesting products. But to make it a success, we knew we had to make it a habit, a product people would use every day.

Early feedback suggests it’s been working, as gauged by several tweets and our own site traffic analysis. Qualitative feedback is great, of course, but what people actually do is more important.

  • 60% of daily active users (DAU) are returning visitors
  • 32% of unique visitors in the past week have visited the site 5 or more times
  • 52% of subscribers open daily email digest (yes, daily!) and 23% click-through

This is especially encouraging, considering the site’s minimalism and lack of obvious re-engagement features. Here are the design decisions and strategies...

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Idea to MVP in 20 Minutes

What cool new products are you using?

We all ask this question. It’s a common conversation starter, especially in the startup community. I’m particularly fond of this topic–I enjoy geeking out about products, writing design deconstructions, and swapping discoveries with smart folks. But these conversations provide more than just entertainment value: They are also a great learning opportunity. Understanding the subtleties of good and bad products is critical for product builders. As Paul Buchheit says, you must “live in the future” to shape it. Playing with early, innovative products can provide a competitive advantage.

This was the basis for Product Hunt. Here’s how we prototyped it.

The Idea In Its Simplest Form

The concept was simple: to build a community for product people to share, discover, and discuss new and interesting products. But when I came up with the idea, I lamented...

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Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100

As I approach my final days at PlayHaven, I’ve spent a bit of time reflecting on the mistakes I’ve made and lessons learned since joining the startup three years ago. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the journey. There were layoffs, heated debates over company vision, and other dramatic events worthy of a separate blog post (or two). But in the end, we found success, growing from a team of 10 to 100 since I joined.

Inspired by Sam Altman’s Startup Advice essay, here’s advice I wish I had three years ago.

IMPORTANT: I jotted these down between commutes from my apartment to the office. As with anything I write, take my advice with healthy skepticism. It’s all about context and admittedly these quick notes lack much of that. This record of learnings is written for myself more than anyone else. If you have specific questions or would like to swap stories, don’t...

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Get More Email Subscribers with this Simple Twitter Hack

I blog a bit and as a result, people share my writing on Twitter. I use Tweetdeck to surface these mentions, creating custom columns to search for tweets that contain “” or URL’s to guest posts I’ve written on PandoDaily, for example.

In return, I reply to each and every person, occasionally reviewing my feed to reply with gratitude:

A few weeks ago, I started experimenting with something new. After replying with appreciation, people often respond in kind. At that moment, I send a second reply with an ask:

If this looks foreign to you, you probably aren’t familiar with Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards. By simply including a link within my tweet, the card is embedded, giving users the ability to subscribe to my email list with a single click. It’s beautifully simple.

As a result, 60-80% of people convert. Why?

  1. They’re primed. They have already shown an...

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Don’t Learn to Code

“So what are you going to do?” My friend asked.

“Not sure. I’m exploring opportunities and investing in myself.” I replied.

“Have you thought about joining a dev bootcamp to learn to code?”

Since I announced I was leaving my product role at a successful startup, several friends and followers asked me this question.

I considered joining a dev bootcamp. Yes, I would like to be more technical. Yes, it would be great if I could create my own RoR app. Yes, I might gain more respect from engineers if I could better speak their language[1].

But as with any decision in life and in startups, there’s an opportunity cost. Learning to code would be valuable but is it the most valuable use of my time? I don’t think so. And this is probably true for many others that join the coding bandwagon. They too would be better off investing elsewhere.

The Hype

There’s never been a better...

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Blogging vs. Building

Hiten Shah recently shared these words with me on MessageMe:

The more you blog, the less you are building.

I’m currently parked at blogging HQ, Philz Coffee, writing. I write frequently, dedicating 1-3 hours every day and publishing up to three posts each week (I have a dozen unpublished essays finished in my “queue”). Many people have asked why I spend so much time writing, sometimes criticizing this daily routine and questioning its value.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Recently there’s been a surge of debate in the startup community on the value of blogging[1], kicked off by this tweet by Keith Rabois:

I disagree with Keith’s hyperbolic statement - I can name several successful founders that blog regularly[2] - however, there is some...

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Growth Hacking Word of Mouth

Growth hacking is sexy these days: surrounded with hype but often misunderstood. Most people equate it with viral user acquisition, when virality is actually just one part of the methodology. Another big piece–which will be the focus of this post–is word of mouth.

For the uninitiated, the concept of growth hacking involves the use of empirical, iterative processes to build a successful, sustainable business at speed. This isn’t just about acquisition, though; it also encompasses the optimization of the entire user lifecycle, beginning with acquisition and extending to activation, retention, and monetization.

Last Thursday I attended the third edition of the Growth Hackers Conference along with 500 other attendees, filling the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, to capacity. Attendees eagerly scribbled notes as Silicon Valley’s top practitioners took the stage–Andy Johns...

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Do “Shitty” Work

This essay is inspired by this week’s Startup Edition topic, “How do you prioritize?”

To do:

  1. Respond to support emails
  2. Fix bugs
  3. Send email newsletter
  4. Update pitch deck
  5. Write a blog post
  6. Update homepage design
  7. Experiment with Twitter ads
  8. Create new on-boarding flow
  9. Attend marketing event

There are so many things to do in a startup. The things you choose to do and don’t do, ultimately determine success or failure. Prioritization is crucial. Unfortunately, not everything on the to do list is fun. Sometimes you have to do “shitty” work.

More Than Your Craft

I recently spoke with a solo founder of an early social product. He shared his challenges building the business:

I built the product in just a few weeks. It wasn’t hard. But getting users is tough! It’s been four months and I haven’t figured it out. I don’t enjoy marketing. I just want to code.

I hear this often. We...

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Want to Feel Badass? A Design Teardown of Music App Mindie.

Last night me and Mindie were fooling around in bed. It was fun and delightfully surprising. Mindie isn’t like the others. She continues to inspire me with her creativity, passion, and beauty.

I met Mindie only few weeks ago. It was love at first sight - we instantly connected. She makes me smile, laugh, and feel good about myself despite her young age.

Who is Mindie? Mindie is an app.

Mindie turns life into a music video. Simply select a song, record a six second video, and let Mindie do its magic. But is there room for another video-sharing app? Instagram, Vine, Cinegram, and many others, already consume our daily habits and home screen real-estate.

The app lacks many obvious features like user profiles, following, category browsing, push notifications, or invite mechanisms. Despite this, its community of music-loving videographers help spread the word, growing 15%...

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