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Ask HN: Did any Show HN posts turn into successful startups?
313 points by portobelln on Sept 20, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

I’ve actually had the exact opposite happen: my ShowHN posts got nowhere, but the product itself became successful. I’m sure that the opposite is also true as well, but figured folks needed to hear that, just because your ShowHN post got nowhere, doesn’t mean there’s not a market fit for what you’re building. It just might not be interesting enough for the HN crowd, or you don’t have any name-recognition.

For those who are curious the product is browserless.io. Rev chart is here: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/browserless/revenue

EDIT: here’s my ShowHN post for posterity: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15722617

Even if the type of person who browses HN religiously is your exact target market, just posting at a bad time or being unlucky enough to post right before other relevant big news comes out is enough to get buried.

This is a good point. My lessons from this are to pick a time when traffic isn't as high so you have a chance of gaining some visibility. Getting on the frontpage during non-peak hours is better than getting on page 2 during peak hours.

My counter-example of a "successful" post with a failed product.

I did more than a couple of Show HNs. The most upvoted one (49 upvotes) was one of the first ones with a mostly crappy product [0].

I was just starting to learn to code, it was an ugly, amateurish CRUD, lacking a lot of basic features.

Unsurprisingly, it went no where. Not because of the software quality, but the product itself.

It was an idea of organizing sales prospects info based on my own experience as a salesperson and the way I organized myself using Excel sheets. It was a neat idea and I believe that's why it was upvoted.

I even had one of those "why should I use this product if I can do it myself with excel?" comments [1]. Turned out this one was right, as it was an excel sheet turned - unnecessarily - into a web app.

The evidence is that I got only one or two signups, who never came back after the first visit.

[0] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7768857

[1] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7769115

It could be the way it's presented too. What does "headless Chrome as a service" even mean?

When I look at the Github link, I actually understand what it does: "Severless Chrome on your own infrastructure. Each session gets its own clean Chrome context for total isolation. After the session is complete Chrome is shutdown. You can also think of it like a database connection where your app connects to browserless, runs some work, and gets results back."

But it's fair. Titles are hard and HN shuns clickbait.

Great point. It's a hard thing to try and succinctly summarize, plus the title _has_ to be somewhat appealing or no one will ever visit it.

It's a bit "damned if you do, damned if you don't" since lots of folks won't click on click-bait-ish links but will gloss over more terse titles.

Also you didn't respond to the person who did leave a comment. Tough to have a post take off that way.

Hrm, it must have slipped past me, I'll take a look!

EDIT: yeah, this is my bad. Totally missed it and it's a great comment too :(

it's not all bad, you still can :)

Appears it's locked now? Can't seem to reply :(

Heh. I recall that ShowHN actually... and while I have no need for it, when it was posted I thought "Neat. Someone will want that"


So, I guess it would be a good-faith action to simply encourage others who are ShowingHN something and tell them what you think, regardless of that product being something you want/need.

I try to do this frequently, actually, I try things out and then give feedback.

On several I've noticed simple typos that can be fixed, and in those cases it is typically where you just need fresh eyes to see something to have it stand-out - because the creators stare at it constantly and thus small things can blind them.

so how do you compete with Google? Headless chrome is supported in Google Functions

That's a good question. We've been doing this for ~year, whereas Chrome on App Engine/Functions has _just_ recently come out. So we've got a bit of a head-start and our infrastructure is pretty hardened at this point. Also a few other points:

- We've got some REST-based API's that make it dead-simple to interact with Chrome for the majority of the use-cases out there. Plus you're not restricted to having to maintain node-based infra if that's not your stack.

- A lot of good tooling has been developed, for instance a live-debugging tool that lets you visually see the browser (located here: https://chrome.browserless.io/).

- The nature of a lot of folks' business restricts them from using big cloud providers like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. Just because one of them pivots into your market doesn't mean that they're going to squash you.

- Finally, I've written a driver + am actively involved in puppeteer's repos (plus others). So, in a way, when you sign up for an account you get support from me as well, which has a _ton_ of value if you've never done headless work.

Anyways, hope that helps

Can vouch for this. Joel is a machine. Not sure how he’s able to do all of this single handed but Browserless is one of those niches where someone who legit listens to their customer does a much better job than a ~trillion dollar company.

It’s simple. This is browserless’s bread and butter. For GCP, it’s just another feature for someone to get a promo.


One feature that's not available or easy to use is audio from the chrome session. Browser page navigation works well in most places, sound not always. We've been having issues with pulseaudio s/w channels just going bad.

BTW, anyone know of a simple SPA checker/monitor?

The first comment on that thread is a typical funny HN comment: “if you’re a Linux user and do x, y, z and connect the flux capacitor to the warp drive you can emulate Dropbox no problem”

Some interesting context for this comment:

"Congrats Dropbox" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16660140

BrandonM: It's funny how often that comment—which I made as a 22-year-old undergrad—resurfaces. Someone even reached out to me 2 weeks ago because they wanted to use it in an article as an example of "the disconnect between the way users and engineers see software"!

I like to think that I've gained a lot of perspective over the last 11 years; it's pretty clear to me that point #1 was short-sighted and exhibited a lot of tunnel vision. Looking back, though, I still think that thread was a reasonable exchange. My 2nd and 3rd points were fair, and I conceded much of point 1 to you after your reply (which was very high quality).

Obviously, we have the benefit of hindsight now in seeing how well you were able to execute. Kudos on that!

Congrats on your success! I wish you nothing but the best going forward!

Zed Shaw's take on the matter. https://zedshaw.com/2018/03/25/the-billionaires-vs-brandonm/

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

I hope BrandonM isn't haunted by his comment or anything. It's not really a big deal right? Can't we just have a chuckle about it and move on? Besides, his comment was the top voted one (simultaneously my comment has a lot of upvotes too). We all get things wrong from time to time, especially at a young age. Big deal. He's probably been right a million times but nobody remembers those.

Actually, that comment by BrandonM is occasionally referenced as a good example of how YC startups have an unhealthy advantage on the forum, as YC startups can have their posts deleted but regular users such as BrandonM can not, hence their comments live for an eternity (which in this case seems to be a good thing).

True, though it's definitely nice to see how that discussion didn't descend into poo-flinging. The poster replied to the criticism and the critic conceded that it would indeed be useful, even for linux users :-)

Sadly, 10 years later, they didn't respond to criticism about removing support for non-ext4-yet-xattr-enabled filesystems.

I’m leaving because of this. And I give them the ~$100/year for the pro plan. Screw ‘em.

Also it really shits me that every time I log in I get a little banner that says “Almost out of space? Try Dropbox Business!”.

One, no, I am not almost out of space. I’m at 15% and if you don’t know that, there’s something terribly wrong.

Two, I’m not a business. I’m just me. And I already pay for Pro. Get out of my goddamned face.


Not one to support rants normally but this irritates me too, especially when encountered in billion-dollar businesses (not only Dropbox). It's like they can't afford investing a part-time developer and a few extra db queries in customer experience and retention, which indicates that they are in it for the fast buck, right or wrong. This type of customer indifference should have a special, and tarnishing, name.

I think it’s more a problem with most companies of any size.

It’s not the devs. The owners likely become sufficiently detached from the end product and experience and sales/marketing teams are left to squeeze every bit of fiscal value from the thing. That usually results in battles for new analytics or new features that usually look like background software/network bloat, and judging the client to increase their spend no matter what. Those teams always have to post higher numbers regardless of the market.

Not that I disagree.

Paypal's post login page comes to mind. I want to see the dashboard after login, not a uninformative ad that probably took time and money to put there.

My PayPal was put on freeze a few weeks ago. When I called to get unlocked I was told the verification lock was put in place because perhaps (they couldnot say exactly) because I had started some Capital Loan process they have. Really, what had happened was I clicked that damned interstitial ad post-login.

The forced ad, accidentally clicked, locked my account, had to spend an hour cleaning it up.

There's a chance that's there because some split test showed it increases conversions to their (presumably) more lucrative business payment plan.

Probably got tests running to see what exactly keeps people around when they get onto the plan.

When you've got that many users, I think it becomes norm. I remember a funny story about how Google tested hundreds of shades of blue to see which exact shade lifted click through rates the most. The standard default blue won.

I can't agree that the impact on UX is worthwhile in the long run but I can see how such things can be attractive when you haven't got the, I dunno the right word for it, "clout" to look past the immediate bottom line like Amazon or Apple had when people were betting on them.

I thought only cable and broadband companies spammed their customers with marketing material, but clearly I was wrong.

There is value in being able to ask hard questions without being condescending. It is a rare skill these days to be able to handle those questions with tact.

I do exactly that since 3 years (git though without ftp), having almost stopped using Google Drive. Dropbox I don't use since 5 years or so ;)

If you want a fancy web interface on top on Git, FTP, SFTP, S3, whatever backend, I built this: https://github.com/mickael-kerjean/nuage

I might check it out... Actually I'm test-driving Perkeep at the moment, it also supports various backends, replication.

Reminds me of:

"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

Always interesting to read comments about the product after 10 years and it`s success :)

I reference this when I talk about HackerNews in general. I remember reading this post back then. I remember them slowly growing huge. It's kind of funny to look back and think I knew about their project from the very beginning.

Apr 4, 2011 "Show HN: my weekend project, Gumroad" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2406614

May 7, 2012 "Gumroad raises $7 million from KPCB" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3939871

Funny to see the $0.70 Bitcoin reference and debate as to whether it would gain traction:


Hacker News referencing Bitcoin in April, 2011

From what I can tell, the first HN post referencing Bitcoin is this one from February 3, 2009, about a month after its initial release: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=463793

"Over $156,000,000 has been made by over 38,011 bloggers, writers, and artists."

Damn son! That's a lot more impressive than the money raised.

Depends on how you’d define success. My older brother did a Show HN for his startup, NanaGram, about four months ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17016374

The product’s now delivering family photos in the mail for hundreds of grandparents every month. They might not be making millions of dollars yet, but they are making some money and doing lots of good in the world by helping with elder loneliness. That’s a success to me.

I think I got 1 or 2 customers from the ShowHN post. To date, I'd estimate 15-20 customers have been from Hacker News. Those 15-20 have been enormously helpful with customer feedback. In fact, I'm deep on some improvements one of our vocal HN customers suggested the other day. Back to the code cave now.

BTW, typo in your FAQ: "We are currently ship".

I created an account to say that's really cool. I love seeing business that serve under-represented groups in the tech world.

Thanks! You created an account on HN or at NanaGram? :)

That is a great idea that not only makes you cash--at a very fair price--but also helps people connect in a genuine fashion.

Thanks! I've stepped away from initially working on the project in my spare time, but my brother @aacook is still going strong. Will pass your positive vibes along to him.

Thanks. I'm pushing on lowering the price. So many people are out there making minimum wage. Their grandparents deserve photos too.

That is so adorable. Kudos to your brother.

Thank you. I'm loving the work. The best part is seeing my Mom's reaction every time someone writes a review ( https://nanagram.co/#happy).

We're Retool (https://tryretool.com). We're not successful startup yet. But we're definitely a startup, haha.

We did a Show HN a year ago: (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14515494). Then we did YC, raised a bit of money (almost entirely off our HN traction), and launched around a few weeks ago (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17725966). Now we're profitable!

Profitable is a very valid definition of successful! More than one can say of, say, Uber ;)

I'm actually very psyched to use retool in my startup. We're not there yet but soon!

Thanks! Feel free to ping me: david@tryretool.com anytime once you start! I'd love to help out :)

Please turn off the intercom intro when I first land on your page. It distracted me from learning about your project and blocks important text that I was reading with a generic Hello! message

We’re hoping to follow your lead with Orchestra (http://orchestrahq.com)

Traffic has been ok but had 1-2 leads so far.

Contentful (https://www.contentful.com) was originally a Show HN called StorageRoom: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2616041

It's now a series C startup with over 200 employees and customers like Spotify, WeWork, Samsung, Nike, Jack in the Box, The British Museum

(I work there)

Contentful is the first developer-oriented CMS that actually appeals to businesses and marketers. I've had more than a few nightmares with the Adobe Marketing Cloud but most big businesses just automatically gravitate to those kind of products. Developers always want simple, easy to deploy and configure and something API-driven. Business wants drag and drop, dashboards, analytics and workflows and other nonsense. Contentful is the first CMS I've seen that is extremely developer-friendly, but is pretty enough to give the business folks confidence. You guys just need more of a spiel on your landing page to appeal to the marketers.

PM: search for "reSpository" snafu on your home page

Thank you! Fixed that :)

Nice! My team was actually looking for a solution like this.

This is very timely for me — thanks!

I announced Candy Japan here, and have made a modest living off of it for the past ~7 years.

I loved your service! I'd still be subscribed if I hadn't gotten diabetes and had to cut all candy out of my life.

I loved your service! I'd still be subscribed if I hadn't gotten diabetes

Boy, there's a ringing endorsement! :-)

Ahahaha, I didn't realize it would come out that way. Rest assured the diabetes is genetic, and not from the consumption of delicious Japanese candy.

Been following you since day 1!

...that was 7 years ago? Time flies. Congrats!

Was there another online service that inspired you to create Candy Japan, or was it filling a need that you yourself had?

I think I saw BirchBox and thought that sending surprises in the mail was an idea that might work for other things besides beauty products as well.

LOL, all the people saying the the name is horrible.

I like DDG but still don't like the name. When telling people about it I heard several times that it sounds like a hobby project and not very trustworthy.

I don't think changing the name would make sense for them at this stage but I'd say they are successful despite the name, not because of it.

No joke, I would be more willing to recommend it to others if I could say the name with a straight face.

The name is bad.

Some of the people in that thread are comparing "Just duck it" to "Just google it"

Or even better, how about "Just duck it, mother truckers"

Are they wrong?

The design has improved significantly over the years.

Graphene: https://graphene-python.org - HN link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10976794

I started working on it almost 3 years ago. Now about 5.000 companies all over the globe are using it including Yelp, Reddit & Mozilla.

We're profitable and trying to expand our niche (GraphQL in Python) to more markets. Thinking on applying to YC in not a very far future :)

I'm interested in how Quiver is going? It looks like this is your main revenue stream? I've looked at it before and been unsure what it does, and trying it now it doesn't seem to work for us (no requests ever reach quiver with the GraphQLQuiverCloudBackend). Is it production ready, or is it in preview at the moment?

Edit: so the issue was that we had an extraneous trailing comma, which was turning a string (deprecation reason) into a 1-element tuple, which was then failing an assertion in the AST serialisation within graphql-core, however this assertion was being silenced by one of the backends - either the decider or the Quiver backend.

I've seen this used at a large US research institution by data scientists doing health care statistics.

That website looks really similar to hashicorp product websites. ex. https://www.consul.io/

Check your GitHub notifications about getting graphql-ws-next added to the team!

Hey, I'm curious as to how this works - how do you guys earn money?

The results aren't as exciting as some, but Cycling Analytics pays my bills



They just raised $100M at $1.1B valuation.

5 years ago I asked a question here - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6828102

That lead to https://unicodepowersymbol.com/

Not a start-up, but a successful project :-)

The unicode power symbol looks like someone's giving you the finger. Nice.

Segment.com (formerly Segment.io) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4912076

I've been following Nathan Barry with ConvertKit. Not all Show HN gets traction: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8583911

But that doesn't mean you wont still be successful: https://convertkit.baremetrics.com/

This one is incredible.

I announced the creation of a class here on HN ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5862102 -- This was a Show HN, but then it was edited for some reason; link is dead now, but it was a blog post describing the class and had a payment link), which went on to sell out in the first day, then eventually I posted on HN that I wanted to sell it ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14933206 ), and was acquired because of the post.

PagerDuty - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=758653. Valued at $1.3B this month.

My project didn't get much attention on Show HN (or anywhere else), but I sent a cold email to Mark Cuban and offered to invest pretty quickly. So don't get too disheartened if your project gets a tepid response.

Orignal post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14459876

Looks cool, and I love the idea of cold emailing Cuban. How's the progress?

That app in particular got sidelined for now, but we've released two others since then:

http://instasaber.com http://speakingpuppy.com

Producthunt is a spin off from Show HN. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7144815

We started BitGym nearly 6 years ago(https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4519256) and had pretty low traction on here,

By most definitions we've pivoted from tech startup to "profitable small tech business", staying at 4-6 people. We're no dropbox, but at a solid cohort paying customers for our reasonably well-loved consumer product we've turned into a successful (by our personal definitions) company, if not a successful startup.

Show HN traffic can definitely have an impact but I'd also urge keeping in mind the causation vs correlation fallacy.

Also the Show HN posts are not as organic as they appear, in other words I don't believe you just prepend Show HN to a post and see it go boom...they won't admit it but there is more happening behind the scene.

Can you clarify what you meant with "happening behind the scene"? Who are "they" that you are referring to? Thanks!

Definitely Webflow: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5407499

Great company, great founders, great product.

Almost 4.5 years ago we launched Instabug (www.instabug.com) on HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5526949)

Successful is a broad term, but we have tens of thousands of apps on our platform and our SDK is running on over a billion devices. We did YC and raised multiple rounds after.

I think this was the company that became pebble (correct me if I'm wrong).



I'm curious to see how insomnia is doing as a non-traditional startup in that he didn't "grow" the company (as far as I know). It's one of the best applications we use in our day-to-day workflow.

I've switched to Insomnia from Postman some time ago, out of frustration, and though I don't use it heavily (a few minutes every week) I really like Insomnia. There are a number of design decisions in the app that I really appreciate.

Insomnia has a better design than postman, but lack the habillity to transfer data from one request to another... So I am still with postman.

Not a successful startup but a successful product. I launched https://www.ghostnoteapp.com in 2015 and it's going really well. Releasing a new version 2.0 and expanding with chrome extensions to allow you to annotate even more specific items.

Thanks to HN it became a pretty good success. The original Show HN is here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9145007

>Not a successful startup but a successful product.

What does that mean exactly? Lots of downloads/customers but not enough to be profitable (or not profitable enough to where it was worth the time and energy)?

Or is it profitable, but you just don't view your single product as a "start-up", because maybe it is a one-man-show, and not something you do full time?

The latter. It's profitable but I don't consider it a startup as it's "just a product" perhaps at one point when I have expanded the product line enough I would consider it a startup but for now it's just a nice relatively profitable product.

I saw this post more than eight years ago and commented on it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1261786

I then started helping Anton out and we managed to hit the front page a few more times: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=akshell&sort=byDate&prefix&pag...

To get feedback on the platform, we paid developers to use it to make apps for our clients, which brought in some revenue. However, we failed to get people to pay for the service itself, even though we had a couple of thousand developers signed up and a few hundred apps in production. So we put Akshell on hold, but stayed in touch.

Three years ago, we reconnected and started Toughbyte: https://toughbyte.com. We initially focused on the thing that worked at Akshell, i.e. writing software for clients. Almost by accident, in the end we ended up doing tech recruitment instead. More on that here: https://blog.toughbyte.com/whats-next-for-toughbyte-aed3cf54...

Now we're building a tech recruitment platform. We've been profitable since day one and have been growing 50% each year. So, in a somewhat roundabout way, that first Show HN post did result in a startup that's still around.

We started AirPaper (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10320509) off a show HN, but ultimately started a company Apollo Agriculture (https://apolloagriculture.com) that's three years in now, growing, and helping thousands of families get out of poverty in Subsaharan Africa.

I announced BugMuncher here (since been renamed to Saber Feedback - https://www.saberfeedback.com), not sure if it counts as a successful startup, but it's been profitably paying my wages for a couple of years :)

I remember seeing the launch post few years back. I tried your demo and thought it was an excellent product.

Good to hear that. Best of luck.

That sounds successful to me! Congrats!

Thanks! I'm not aiming for explosive growth or a huge exit, so it's probably more of a 'life-style business' rather than a startup, but that suits me just fine :)

Tinfoil started as a Show HN back in 2011: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2291944

Successful is a broad term, but we're still kickin' and growing fast. :)

Depends on what "successful" is, but these guys keep crunching out really good software -


Not sure if "successful", but https://newbusinessmonitor.co.uk/ makes me some pocket money — not nothing; half-way to "Ramen Profitable" — and was also accepted into the Advisory Track of this year's YCombinator Startup School which I'm quite proud of. I did a Show HN in May last year, and I can't believe how ugly and crappy the service was back then in comparison with how it is now.

This reminds me that I should document the history of projects I work on.

Like the page, but jesus, the sound of the chat popup opening up made me jump :-)

Is there a US version of this? Cool service!

Not as far as I'm aware, but people have started asking for the same thing for US and Australian companies. I might end up expanding NBM to include other countries, provided I can reliably source the data.

Hasura - https://github.com/hasura/graphql-engine Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17540263

We'd been building the tech (realtime GraphQL on Postgres) for a while, but the HN launch gave us the initial visibility and a tremendous number of users, reviews. And within the last few weeks we have several users in production and enterprise clients too. :)

Indiehackers.com started here and was acquired by Stripe

Best of examples here. You have been done a great work compiling information from others

Hashnode - a community for developers - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11018763

Somehow I was unaware of Hashnode. Just checked it out, and it's really neat! It's a lot like dev.to or Coderwall, but seems to be more like a traditional social network than those two, in terms of people hanging out and posting memes and stuff.

My time tracking app[1] was bootstrapped with over $15k in sales from Show HN[2]. Without a launch like this, it would be much harder to work on it in the first year when organic sales were low.

[1]: https://qotoqot.com/qbserve/

[2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11778077

Yes. I did a Show HN for https://geocode.xyz about a year ago, revenue is up over 1000% YTY - although there could also be other factors at play. HN is where I got the best criticism though. The key to success is being able to know where you suck early on.

Dec 31, 2012 "Show HN: my weekend project, CameraLends" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4987929 (7 upvotes)

Aug 5, 2013 "I launched my weekend project 7 months ago on HN – here's CameraLends today" (124 upvotes)

Jan 10, 2017 "KitSplit Acquires CameraLends Becoming Biggest Online Camera Rental Company" https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliesportelli/2017/01/10/kit...

What prompted you to do the Aug 5th 2013 update?

Seemed like a lot of progress from my initial MVP, and because the initial Show HN didn't get a lot of attention.

Yes! We launched BuzzSumo 5 years ago almost to the day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6437712 and we were acquired by Brandwatch last year.

Can't find the thread, but Segment started after the ShowHN post got a great response.

Mentioned elsewhere in this thread, but here's the link https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4912076

I did a Show HN for my React book two years ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13170837 Since then I transitioned from being employed at a startup to being self-employed where I split my time doing 50% consulting work (which is passively generated through my blog) and the other 50% for educational platform/books https://roadtoreact.com Hacker News gave me one of the initial feedbacks which made me follow this passion :)

We (https://github.com/amark/gun / https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7587814) raised $2.6M for our "Open Source P2P Firebase" and now have Internet Archive (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17685682) and others doing terabyte / daily traffic on us. All started here on HN! :)

ServerPilot (https://serverpilot.io/) --- Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6733631

Our Show HN post didn't get much attention, but we also didn't have our marketing hopes set on that. We did turn into a successful startup, not in terms of raising money but instead in terms of growing off of revenue.

Nov 14, 2014 - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8653575

Not much traction on our Shown HN post, but we've had a lot of growth through our standup bots in Slack and Microsoft Teams. Still very much a startup, but we've re-branded to https://jell.com, have 4 employees, and a growing customer list!

I did a Show HN on my side project, AutoMicroFarm, two years ago (although I have been working on it and posting to HN about it much longer than that).

Thanks to HN, I was able to get into the YC fellowship program. After launching and not getting any traction, I almost quit. However, I realized I did not know how to do marketing, sales, or customer dev (the "people want" part of "Make something people want"). It wouldn't be fair to the idea of AutoMicroFarm, or to myself, to quit without trying to learn marketing/sales/customer dev and applying it to AutoMicroFarm.

So this year, I hired a business coach (https://solacelessons.com/) and continued working on AutoMicroFarm. I can't claim it's successful in any meaning of the word yet, but I have a solid framework in place for my social media/email/blog outreach, I am talking to people to figure out what they want, and starting to make revenue--all while having a day job, a side gig (both related to web dev), and a family. I've been really happy to make this progress while keeping the hours spent on AutoMicroFarm to 5-10 hours per week.

The fact that solacelessons created an account and replied less than a half hour after this comment plus the fact that the business coach's site was directly linked makes this seem to me like a less-than-genuine endorsement.

I'm not going to specifically make that assertion (because, well, I could easily be wrong); I'm just saying how it comes across to me-the-reader. :/

It’s an interesting point. I thought it was nice that my client let me know he shared about me on HN and I inturn am supporting him. When comments popped up about my site, I felt the need to acknowledge what people were saying. How is this “less than genuine”?

Yes, after I made the comment, I let me coach know, who registered on HN and answered some questions.

How is this less than genuine? Would a disclaimer help? Perhaps something like, "This post may contain a direct link to providers of products and services that I personally have found helpful. I was not prompted to add the link, and receive no financial renumeration for adding the link. However, I may do so in the future."

No offense, but your website is just as ugly as your business coaches pink shadow on dark blue text is just... like really? I'm getting nausea just looking at your coaches site

There are so many great wordpress themes and premade static page templates you could use, why are the fonts on your site so terrible? The vertical spacing and kerning make my eyes bleed, especially on the FAQ.

Are you sure your business coach actually knows what they are doing? Even the font on your logo is terrible too Federant, serif...?, the font is extremely dispropionate to the logo. There is simply too much crap going on in your logo as well, the roots are distracting and don't scale well for small image sizes. Doesn't YC fellowship recommend business coaches already as part of their program?

Maybe design isn't your thing, but you should seriously consider paying a professional to redo your entire branding and website. Its hard to have a social media / email / blog outreach strategy when these essential requirements aren't met yet. Its a oneclick install in many instances, adding a few images, and some text and that's it

I don't know how long you've had your business coach either, or what things she has outlined and actionable steps moving forward. Nor do I know what things you have gained since then. So I don't really know either way. But if website / logo redesign wasn't one of the lowest hanging fruits / highest priorities on that list then I question the coaches' effectiveness. Its cheap, fast, and easy to get a nice site done these days with existing templates.

Also, why do I get the feeling this comment's intention is just to solicit traffic to your coaches site. Well for one, why does she already know about this comment on hackernews?

Thanks for the feedback. I am starting to redo the website, I haven't updated the design for a while.

However, your comment comes across as really mean and unnecessary. I really doubt someone would come across it and think, "I really like the concept and would even be willing to pay for the products and/or services, but the logo font is Federant serif, and the FAQ spacing and kerning literally made my eyes bleed, so I can't see anything now."

Your reply to my coach is much more constructive and actionable. Please refrain from making comments like the one I am replying to, and strive to keep your comments constructive and actionable.

Have a great day.

Fair enough, I am sorry I offended you. You are right that comment was unnecessary and uncalled for. Design is a very particularly touchy subject to me. Sometimes I get in the heat of the moment and write down all my thoughts down unfiltered. I feel very strongly about every piece of information presented to me, and I feel even more strongly about lost potential

If you want constructive critcism, I suggest adjusting your line-height properties and font-family to something like Arial or roboto. If you want a quickfix, just add these 3 lines in your `body` tag https://i.imgur.com/33lI25Z.png

Without changes https://i.imgur.com/91Pv9Sh.png, with changes https://i.imgur.com/nA7JYub.png

For your font-logo I suggest simplifying it and removing some of the finer details. This is a quickdraft I made following the same guidelines that your logo emphasizes. Remove 2 fish, and just focus on one fish with bubbles to emphasize a complete cycle. https://i.imgur.com/fSWf2fJ.png

Thank you so much for your apology, change of tone, and helpful hints! <3

Do you have any suggestions about which font to pick? I like Federant because it seems rustic/"farmy" yet modern at the same time.

As far as the logo itself, I meant to play around with making it a responsive SVG (https://tympanus.net/codrops/2014/08/19/making-svgs-responsi...), but it would take me quite some time to climb the learning curve to do so. Unfortunately, the designer who made it for me did not provide an SVG file.

Again, thanks for your help!

I wouldn't worry about SVGs. The vast majority of logos are usually made in adobe illustrator / affinitydesigner/similar in vector .eps/.ai format.

When it gets exported its almost always a .png file. The logo you have doesn't benefit from SVG. The only ones that really benefit from it are things like gitlab's animated logo https://i.imgur.com/FuxVepX.gif. SVG tends to overcomplex things, sometimes designers circumvent it using embedded font-families instead. https://fontawesome.com/icons?d=gallery

Serif definitely is in the right ballpark for font families you are looking for. I really like the artofmanliness when it comes to older styles. https://www.artofmanliness.com/. They use "BLACK" found here I believe. http://www.fontspace.com/category/rustic. Other farmy rustic styles http://www.fontspace.com/category/rustic?p=3 → Altantida

I tend to think of "barber shop fonts" when I think of old rustic "farmy" feel, because farmers would cut their own hair. And barbershops are still one of the few places that still use old traditions of knife shaving. Other good examples would be "speakeasy" bars, cowboy style.

The font you have is more castle/medieval/serfdom font instead of old farmy rustic. Technically, its not actually a bad font though for what you are going for, actually I looked through it is one of the better options. The logos font height needs to be the same size as the logos height though. Example https://i.imgur.com/NEMKnhT.png . Change the size font-size here to 2.5rem. https://i.imgur.com/KJGAlxe.png

I wouldn't suggest using federant for your actual paragraph text tags though. Keep that part simple and use Arial or Google Roboto

Hope this helps out

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that if a site doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t generally use their services.

If you want to do a quickfix on your site, just change these things:

"You’ve been told to TALK to your audience, but it’s NOT WORKING" → change it as a background color div

"Hell YES I Want It!!!" → remove the pink shadow as well

I get that pink and blue are your colors, but those colors don't pair well together used that way. Either that just reduce the pink shadows by a large margin.

These are the changes it should look like


This is all the code I modified


and here


It still has the correct callout to action but doesn't induce any nausea to your users. I made the fix very quickly, but you should get the general idea. There might be minor tweaks you can make from the suggestions I indicated

If you want to implement these changes on your wordpress site, you can simply just copy paste everything I've written and paste it in your css file, or forward this whole message to your developer.

These are just my personal opinions though, your free to do whatever you want

I really appreciate this. Thank you. A developer friend made similar suggestions. I just haven’t had the time to implement. You’ve made it extremely easy for me, however. Thank you.

The website of your coach is ugly !!!

But your project seems interesting.

Idk, I think people seem to care about having a good looking website more than having a website that is practical. It conveys all the information you need on it right on the home page which imo is more important than being pretty. Though, the person who made the website forgot to make a landing page for the redirect on the "I want it!!!" button lol.

Thanks for the heads up on the button. I’m not having any issues with it though.

Thanks for checking out my site. I’m excited for AutoMicroFarm’s project to take off! It’s much needed in this world.

One of the most valuable lessons my coach taught me is, "get better at being good enough". She practices what she preaches ;)

As I am getting older that's exactly my take on how to achieve something useful. As software devs we sometimes try to outhink the problem by solving every non existent problem that might occur down the road and also doing it in an as elegant way as possible. But the fact is that "down the road" will never come if you never leave the garage.

One example is a little fun halloween project I did last year. It's nothing more than a simple servo that opens a box after a voice command through amazon Alexa. I a don't do much in the way of motors and electronics. So I tried to find a way to elegantly mount the servo in the box and build something that pushes the lid upwards.

In the end I thought what the heck I'll just glue it down with endless amounts of hot glue hoping that it will stick.

A year later when I wanted to retire my box to save some space it turns out that the glue stuck so well that I had to cut it out. So even if it is not elegant and could gave been done in a much more elegant way it worked and nobody cared how it was done.

No matter how elegant your solution, most of the time you are judged by the result not the how.

Here is the link to the box I was talking about https://youtu.be/BdbjoniAP0s

Winfify, the company which made the successful A/B testing SaaS product Visual Website Optimizer(VWO) is bootstrapped and successful with $18 millions in revenue.

Their first submission was in 2010: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=876141

Thanks for the mention. The name of the company is Wingify.

Here's the Ask HN for Visual Website Optimizer that got 0 comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=991252

This product has gone to help Wingify bootstrap to $20mn in annual recurring revenue. So there's hope even if an 'Ask HN' doesn't fly :)


Started 4 years ago[0] and raised $100m 5 months ago[1]

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7937476

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16820699

I'm getting a DNS error on https://checkr.io/.

Just me?

I am as well.

*edit: Looks like it's at https://checkr.com

Not sure what the underlying intent is with this question, but great question and love reading the answers.. Also, I always thought that the main purpose of the “Show HN” posts weren’t about some big user generating promotion, but rather to solicit feedback from friendly fellow entrepreneurs and business people.?

We posted our side project as Show HN almost 4 years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7095228

As of Monday, both co-founders are working on it full time as a fully bootstrapped business.

Posted a Show HN about 6 years ago. On the front page for about half a day. We hold our cards close to our chest because ours is a competitive industry, so pardon the anonymity, but we are bootstrapped and did $10m+ in revenue last year with a healthy profit. Much love, HN :)

I remember at least one (Stripe)

I would imagine that every successful/not-successful startup would post on Show HN. There are entire lists of places to post stuff, and I'm sure Show HN must be in the top 10.

Don't have the link handy, but Gitlab is one.

One blog post on my own crappy blog - turned into ~$1M so far.

Dropbox did.

Always interesting to read comments about the product after 10 years and it`s success :)

Did Balsamiq start as a Show HN?

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