📻 — Kat Mañalac: How to Launch (Again and Again)

This is your Community, Daily.

Reading Time: ~ 5 min.

Good morning yeniverse!

Monday got off to a great start and I’m psyched about the progress of so many of the folks who are building new projects, communities, and businesses! I get to meet with so many of you during the week and it’s so clear that this is the year that many of you have decided will be the year that you get to that next level.

I couldn’t be more excited for you! Just lmk how I can help! Okay, so, a few interesting reads from around the internet:

  1. $500 MRR. Elon Musk and marketing strategies. Clubhouse is inevitable?

  2. Online community governance. Community-led growthOwnable.

  3. Engagement triggers. 13-year old indie hacker. Celebrating 1k subs.

  4. Create your own rituals. Pre-mortem? Huh. Bitcoin crosses $50k.

  5. Founder of Ethereum and revolt. Racist cameras. Hackers attack water.

  6. Shopify turns into a network. Microsoft wants to buy Pinterest?

  7. Facebook has watch plans. Eww. $77M mansion. Goals.

  8. I shared this post already but MKBHD is badass.

And the award for “longest OG subscriber” and reader goes to… @CJChilvers today for reading my garbage for 20+ years!

This is the sauce: Consistent publishing over a long period of time.

To infinity & community,

— john


So many of the folks in our YENIVERSE are building new projects, new startups, new ventures, new communities, new businesses, and more… it’s honestly getting harder and harder to track and remember!

And, as you already know from our info product series, launching a new project is a process, not a single event.

But what I remembered yesterday in some candid chats with some of you doing our open office hours (#yenHOURS) is that a lot of the problem is that we don’t have the smallest version of a mvp and this causes slow-down in the delivery of a product into a customer’s hands.

And I get it; it’s hard to reduce your dream project to just a few features but we must! Over-engineering our products and even our communities is a big problem and we stand to lose valuable time and resources when we do.

I wanted to give you a bit more encouragement (via YCombinator’s Startup School) that launching your product is, again, a process and not a singular event — Kat Manalac reminds us clearly in this great video:

The title slide? Launch. Launch. Launch:

The lecture is great and she gives clear how-tos for each of the following types of launches that you might experiment with:

  • Silent Launch

  • Friends and Family Launch

  • Stranger Launch

  • Online Community

  • Request Access Launch

  • Social Media / Blogger

  • Pre-Order

  • New Feature / Product Launch

  • Press

Why launch continuously? That’s a great question, glad you asked!

The reasons are plentiful but Kat breaks it down:

  • A/B test your short pitch

  • See how users respond to your product

  • Launching to different audiences: Are you talking to the right users?

Many of these tips mirror that of building a community-centric b2b saas, or what I call a CommSaaS:

There is, of course, much more to Kat’s presentation; feel free to walk through the presentation yourself and get the goods!

But I do want to call out one section in particular where she calls on community as a strategy and competitive advantage:

Let’s talk about online communities. This is actually one of my favorite ways to launch. I think you should plan a launch for every single community that you are part of. So, when a company goes through Y Combinator, they have the option of launching on Bookface before they launch publicly.

So, Bookface is our internal platform at YC. It’s like Facebook meets LinkedIn meets Quora, and there are currently over 4,000 other founders on Bookface, so it’s a fairly low-risk way to launch because it’s not totally public, but there is enough of an audience there to get some feedback, and you’re launching in front of, you know, fairly friendly people who want to see you succeed. And so, they launch there.

But my point is, it’s definitely worth putting yourself out there because, you know, you might be one of those extreme cases, but at the very least, you’ll get some early users, and you’ll get some great feedback.

So, many of the startups that go through YC launch on Hacker News and Product Hunt. And, you know, we over time have looked at the stats of how well these launches convert, so, you know, a TechCrunch launch versus a Product Hunt launch versus a Hacker News launch. And in terms of converting to users, you know, they’re starting to even out in terms of their impact and conversion for, you know, whether it’s your signups or converting to customers.

So, if you’re launching in these communities and aren’t active members of these communities yet, my suggestion is that you spend a little bit of time looking at the communities, you understand the rules, especially if you’re posting to subreddits, right? They all sort of have their own moderators, have their own rules. Understand the best way to talk to these communities.

And if it’s a community that’s known for being helpful, ask for advice, ask for feedback. If you’re not part of these communities, I’d reach out to someone who is and ask them for advice, ask them for the best way to launch because there are going to be tips for every community.

So, I recommend, like, connecting with someone in the community and asking them for help if you’re not part of the community yourself.

The biggest piece of advice I have for launching on online communities is write like you talk. Do not talk like a marketing robot. People hate that. So, don’t use marketing language or deep jargon. Talk like a human when you’re addressing the community.

Kat Mañalac

I could have said it better myself. The team then takes it a bit further and sharing some amazing tips via the Startup School forum of how to launch in their community:

  • Think about your audience. You are posting to a community of founders. What do you, as a founder, want to read? (If you don’t want to read a bunch of sales pitches, chances are, most other founders don’t either!)

  • Use a conversational tone. Share the story of why you started tackling this particular problem and building your product like you would tell it to a friend.

  • Share a clear 1-line description of your company and a link to your website/demo/app.

  • If you believe some founders will be real users and you have a special deal or code for SUS founders, include those details.

  • Make a request for feedback. The more specific you can make your ask, the better. Do you want people to provide feedback on your landing page? Are you looking for bugs when people download the app? Do you want to see what breaks when people play the game you’ve built? Write that question clearly at the end of your post.

  • Respond in the comments. Even if you’re just saying thank you, engage with the founders who take the time to share their feedback.

  • Follow up. If you make changes based on the feedback from founders in the thread, share this news. Some of these founders may be among your earliest users who love your product or support it with an upvote on Product Hunt in the future!

I’m certain you can use many of these tactics in your own projects! Good luck and I’d love to know what you’re launching!

Finally, we’re opening up our Alpha Platform for a few more folks this month — you can learn more via our community site.

Have a great one folks!

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