The proliferation of the internet across the world has been one of the biggest achievements of technology in the last two decades. The advent of internet technology gave many people a chance to display their talents for the world to see and take notice. However, like any good thing there is also another side to the coin, which in this case is the huge volume of talent on display.
What is it that famous apps like the group video mobile chatting app, Houseparty and the hugely popular $0 commission brokerage firm, Robinhood have in common? Both Houseparty and Robinhood launched their products on Product Hunt from where they got their initial traction; the kind of traction which resulted in funding from acclaimed investors. Product Hunt comes into the picture by giving deserving product creators a platform to display their wares.
Before we dive into the journey of Product Hunt, we need to understand what Product Hunt does primarily. Product Hunt is a website/platform which lets users share their own products and discover other products. Users can comment and vote (upvote and downvote) various products which they think are useful or not. A product with the most upvotes in a day reaches the top of the list for that day. Simply put, the more attractive and useful a product is, means the better the chance for it to be discovered by other users. Products are mainly classified and organized into four categories namely technology (web apps, mobile apps etc.,) games ( PC, mobile and web,) books and podcasts.
Product Hunt: The Beginning
Product Hunt was founded by Ryan Hoover in 2013 but initially Product Hunt was completely different than what it is right now. Before Product Hunt kicked off, Hoover was a Product Director at a gaming company named PlayHaven. Hoover was an active blogger and used to talk about tech products and answer questions from his audience about his thoughts on new things on TechCrunch, Hacker News, Redditt and Twitter. Product Hunt initially began as an email list using LinkyDink, a tool for creating an email digest.
Just announced a new experiment: Product Hunt http://t.co/wM3F7rF0Xr
— Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) November 6, 2013
Interested contributors submitted links of new products which would be included in the email newsletter and subscribers would receive the newsletters containing all the new products.
What began as a side project grew into Product Hunt. Hoover realised he had an excellent idea on his hands and one which would be helpful for everyone. Founders are using the platform (Product Hunt) as a launch pad, investors are using it as a scouting ground while tech enthusiasts are able to stay updated on new technology.
Once Ryan Hoover realised the potential for what Product Hunt could be, he reached out to his friend Nathan Bashaw for help with designing the original Product Hunt. The platform was designed over a Thanksgiving break and rolled out. Hoover and Bashaw tested the waters by seeking feedback from users about Product Hunt and also at the same time making them invested in the decision making process.
Five days after gaining feedback from initial users, the first Product Hunt beta was rolled out followed by gaining the first 30 users. Bugs were identified and corrected all the while collecting constant feedback and in a span of a week the users grew to 100. It was then that Product Hunt was publicly launched for the public. At that moment, Ryan Hoover however did not go for press publicity but instead worked on making Product Hunt as engaging as possible while retaining their users. Later a couple of strategically placed articles in the press worked wonders while reaffirming that Product Hunt was not just one of Hoover’s experiments.
Since the public launch, Hoover kept a keen eye on promising users and engaged with them and also collaborated with influencers in the tech space to promote Product Hunt. Twenty days after the public launch of Product Hunt, there were 2000 users on the platform.
Once Product Hunt started gaining traction, it was not long before venture capital firms came knocking on their doors.
Since Product Hunt began in 2013, there have been over 100 million product discoveries and 50,000 startups and makers introduced their product/service to the world on Product Hunt. AngelList is a U.S. website for startups, angel investors, and job seekers looking to work at startups. AngelList also helps startups with their challenges in fundraising and talent. Ryan Hoover used to browse AngelList to search for different startups that have been springing up.
My new favorite thing: browsing AngelList. I'm such a nerd.
— Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) October 25, 2011
Ryan Hoover and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant decided to meet and discuss Product Hunt after Naval reached out to Hoover over a text message. The meeting took place six months after Product Hunt was rolled out publicly. Ryan Hoover initially had a fear that AngelList might be a competitor to Product Hunt, as investors were using the platform to scout for promising startups. While Product Hunt’s focus was product discovery, Hoover took his time to learn about Naval’s vision for AngelList following which his fears were assuaged. It was then that Naval offered to invest in Product Hunt. Although the news was not publicly announced, both Product Hunt and AngelList have announced the acquisition on their company blog sites. AngelList had this to say about Product Hunt on their blog “Product Hunt will remain independent. It will maintain its playful, empathic and curious attitude (sic.)” AngelList acquired Product Hunt in November, 2016.
Today Product Hunt is used by product and app developers worldwide to display their creations in order to be launched or in the hopes of attracting investors. Stay tuned to Startup Stories to learn more about the revenue models of Product Hunt in the next article.
How Parle G Became An Iconic and Well Loved Indian Brand
Millennials would recall fond memories of eating Parle-G biscuits in the evenings along with a hot cup of chai or coffee. The simple and humble milk biscuit Parle G is a household name and is perhaps the major reason for Parle being the brand it is today. Parle G is also one of the oldest Indian brands in existence and can trace its roots back to the British Raj when India was still under British rule. The journey of Parle G is as iconic as the brand itself. Keep reading to find out how Parle G grew from a humble beginning to become one of the major brands in the FMCG industry today.
Parle was established in 1929 by the Chauhan family in Vile-Parle, Bombay during the British Raj rule. Mohanlal Dayal Chauhan belonged to a family of silk traders and he purchased a refurbished confectionery manufacturing plant. Mohanlal sailed to Germany to learn the trade of making confectionery and returned to India with the necessary skills in 1929, following which he set up his first factory. The factory was named as House of Parle after the suburb Vile Parle, in which it was located.
Parle initially manufactured and sold peppermints, sugar and toffees. The plant was managed by 12 family members who looked after engineering, manufacturing and logistics. The first Parle product to become a major hit was the Orange Bite, an orange flavoured candy. The Swadeshi Movement started in India to urge Indian citizens to purchase only Indian products in order to reduce dependency on imported British products. Spurred by the increasing prominence of the Swadeshi Movement, Parle decided to manufacture biscuits which were a premium imported product back then. United Biscuits, Huntley & Palmers, Britannia and Glaxo were the prominent British brands that ruled the market.
In 1938, Parle came up with Parle G which is short for Parle Gluco, a glucose based biscuit which was made in India and made for Indians. These biscuits became an affordable source of nourishment for the Indian masses and made biscuits commonplace in India.
ALSO READ: Top Ten Long Standing Indian Brands
Parle hit a roadblock when competitors like Britannia which launched its own line of glucose biscuits named Glucon D. Brittannia even went as far as to get Gabbar Singh from the movie Sholay, to promote their biscuits. The Indian masses quickly became confused with the number of biscuits available in the market and simply began asking for glucose biscuits.
It was at this moment that Parle decided to counter the knock offs and came up with packaging that would be unique to Parle Gluco while patenting its own packing machinery. The new packaging was a yellowish wax paper wrapper with a plump little girl imprinted on it , along with the brand name and company’s red coloured logo. This was quickly followed by a television commercial with the Indian superhero Shakthiman who was immensely popular with kids. Since then there was no looking back for Parle G and even to this day it enjoys an unparalleled popularity.
Parle G is still committed to its promise of being an affordable brand for all economic sections of the Indian society. A small pack of Parle G biscuits is sold for a simple price of ₹ 5. Parle G biscuits are easily available in all corners of the country and can be found in the remotest parts like the Line of Control or the North Eastern borders.
Today Parle G is one of the most recognisable Indian brands and a hundred million packets of Parle G are sold every month.
The Incredible Journey Of Wolfe Herd And The Dating App Bumble Which Went Public
Silicon Valley woke up to the news of the dating app Bumble making its public debut. Bumble is a dating app which caters to women and is led by a woman named Whitney Wolfe Herd. As soon as Bumble made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange (NSE,) shares of the dating app soared by as much as 67%. This led to the net worth ofWolfe Herd, the Chief Executive Officer of Bumble, to be valued at $1.5 billion, thereby making her a self made billionaire at just the age of 31. Bumble plans to use the $2.2 billion proceeds from the IPO to pay off debt, fund international growth, and pursue acquisitions.
However, the story of Wolfe Herd and Bumble is one of mettle, grit and inspiration. The journey of the unicorn is nothing short of a story. Keep reading to find out how Wolfe Herd founded a company to rival Tinder.
Wolfe Herd began her journey as a co founder of Tinder, the world’s biggest dating app. Whitney Wolfe Herd was Vice President of Marketing, at Tinder when she began her journey. However, Wolfe Herd alleged she was subjected to sexual harassment by her colleagues at Tinder and that she was stripped of her co founder tag because having a girl with that tag makes the company seems like a joke. Wolfe Herd walked out of Tinder and filed a lawsuit against Match Group, the parent company of Tinder. The lawsuit was settled out of the court for $ 1 million.
It was her experiences at Tinder which led Wolfe Herd to start Bumble, a dating app which lets women make the first move. Women can swipe across profiles of men and choose to begin a conversation after a match. At no point in this process could a man make the first move thereby putting women in firm control about the conversation as well as offering them a safety net.
After taking some time off following the nasty lawsuit with Tinder, Wolfe Herd received an email from a Russian named Andrey Andreev, who is based in London and founded Badoo, another dating app which was the world’s largest dating app at that time (2014.) Andreev was impressed with Wolfe Herd’s commitment at Tinder and said he would help her with her new startup and ended up investing $ 10 million in her idea. Andrey Andreev would own 79% stake while Wolfe Herd owns 20% and the title of CEO and at the same time be able to tap into the infrastructure and resources of Badoo. Herd and Andreev brought in former Tinder executives Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick, to design the new app’s back end and user interface. Both Mick and Gulczynski share the remaining 1% stake between themselves.
ALSO READ: Tinder: The Unique Story Behind The Swipes
During a cocktail event, Andrey and Wolfe Herd were discussing a scenario where women could make the first move and get the phone number of a guy after a match. However, the match would disappear after 24 hours if neither of the parties made a move. This became the core of Bumble and the secret sauce for its success.
By January 2015, about a month after launch, Bumble had about 100,000 downloads. By the end of 2017, two years after launching, Bumble had amassed more than 22 million users. This growth was noticed by Tinder which then made a buyout offer for $ 450 million. Wolfe Herd rejected the offer immediately. By July 2020, Bumble announced it had reached 100 million users. Today, Bumble is available in 150 countries and is expanding into new areas like business networking. In 2019, revenue jumped more than 35% and it turned a profit of $ 68.6 million. More than 10% of Bumble’s users pay $9.99 for a monthly subscription to access perks like extra time to decide whether a suitor merits a message. At Tinder, just about 5% of users pay for a similar service.
Today Bumble is the second largest dating app in the world and only continues to grow with its closest competitor being Tinder.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
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