October 26, 2021
This past week has been incredible. We're finally seeing signs of traction after weeks of building. This blog post is dedicated to our launch experience on Product Hunt. Or, how we ended up with over 100 downloads, got featured on the front page as the #10 Product of the Day, and were upvoted by the likes of Ryan Hoover, Chris Messina, and Hiten Shah.
In the spirit of transparency and open startups, I'll be explicit with details to give you, the reader, sufficient context to our story. If this is your first time reading our blog, hi I'm Sarim 🤝 Enough with the pleasantries. Let's set the scene.
In short, Neat is productivity software. It brings your web notifications straight to your macOS menu bar so you can respond to anything in a keystroke or click. For now, we support GitHub notifications. In the longer term, our vision is to build the most seamless & simple web notification experience for all your web applications on your desktop.
macOS menu bar
Why? We think notifications are underrated and underutilized.
Neat user interface accessible at
If you're curious about how we got here, this section is for you. Otherwise, feel free to skip to the next section.
Neat has been a work-in-progress for almost two years, mainly as a part-time project for the co-founding team as we finished our undergrad. The current iteration of Neat is our fourth product to date. Below you'll find snapshots of our journey in stunning 4K.
We started with hacking together a Notion-like documentation tool. It solved no problems, so we built a visual file manager and launched it to Product Hunt. It did well but users didn't stick. We then dabbled with the idea of an Alfred-like search tool until we eventually converged to the current version of Neat — a central feed for your web notifications on your desktop.
We're really excited about our current direction and have never felt a greater sense of purpose as we think this product has tremendous potential for positively impacting the daily workflows of the 1 billion knowledge workers worldwide.
Since May 2021, we've been full-time on Neat and have been building this current product since mid-June. In the past few weeks, we've built a functional prototype (or MVP), identified users who need it most, onboarded ~20 of them, retained 60% as Daily Active Users (DAUs), built a user-feedback loop, and shipped bi-weekly releases to iteratively improve the product.
This gallery below captures some of the memories made along the way. As I piece these together, I'm also taking the opportunity to reflect on where we started and the progress we've made. Truly grateful.
Huzaifa and Ted brainstorming (Jan 7, 2020)
Group brainstorm at McLennan Library, McGill University (Feb 11, 2020)
Post-launch faces (Oct 18, 2021)
At this stage, we had proven to ourselves that at least one person needed our product and that users were deriving genuine value from the tool. Now we wanted to grow our user base to reach a sample size sufficient to guide the product roadmap.
Internally, we set a goal to get 100 downloads. 100 downloads, to us, was sufficient to measure retention (and churn) and to refine our understanding of the core value we offer to our users.
We were heavily inspired by Superhuman's data-driven system to find Product-Market Fit and thought that 100 users was enough to carry out experiments with substantial results.
So we set a clear goal for our launch - 100 downloads. With this goal in mind, we planned out our launch a week in advance and made a short checklist. We got rid of the waitlist on our landing page and decided to open up the product for public beta.
The day is October 14th and it's the day of the launch. We decided to launch at midnight Pacific Time (3 AM in our timezone, EST) since the product board resets at that time, making it easier to stand out than later in the day.
Within the first hour, we were at #5 Product of the Day. We noticed 10 website visitors, of which five converted to downloads, two of whom closed the app or logged out immediately. Something was wrong.
Upon close inspection, we realized that our onboarding flow wasn't showing up as expected to new users. After logging into the app, they wouldn't see any GitHub notifications. Annoying, right? Despite anticipating this and building an onboarding flow, there was some last-minute miscalculation and the onboarding flow wouldn't show up.
At 4 AM our time, we agreed the launch would fail if we let this continue. Users would log in and fall off, one after another. We worked on a fix immediately and shipped a release within an hour. The West Coast had gone to sleep, traffic dipped, and we had time to test the fix thoroughly. An unexpected advantage of launching this early in the morning.
Now it was 5:30 AM, the updated product release was out, and more and more users were coming in and staying on the app rather than logging out. Our solution had worked.
If you're curious how we track user engagement, we use FullStory for website visits, Amplitude for in-app engagement analytics, and Sentry for error tracking. All sensitive user data is stored locally, not on our servers. We only track engagement and errors to help us identify bugs and support users.
I am going to list out the results since it's easier to read and digest information.
Website visits via
This is our second product hunt launch as a team and we've gotten much better at navigating the launch mechanics and building a self-serve product. My major takeaways are listed below. However, don't forget that everything is contextual and my learnings may not fit your circumstances. Take this with a grain of salt:
Thank you to Hiten Shah for hunting. Thank you to Meghna Saraf for thoughtfully reviewing our marketing copy at the last minute. Thank you to our friends and believers for supporting the launch. Lastly, thank you to the new and old users for making it all happen. We're excited to continue supporting you and building software you love.
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