Personally I'd avoid posting products on PH or HN for that reason and instead focus on growing organically in a niche market where you're not immediately discoverable by copycat founders. In general PH feels more and more phony to me and I think there's a lot of astroturfing going on.
HN and PH audience is 99% of Marketing and / or Tech people.
Coincidentally, those people make product for Marketing and Tech people, and of course promote on website visited by Marketing and Tech people.
But basically anything outside of those two realms feels completely under-addressed by SAAS:
- public services
- waste management
mostly "unsexy things".
That's why you should probably avoid posting here if you don't want copycats.
Serve a totally different market, and make it to the front page of that market's HN. Then you're in business.
You can post to HN as a victory lap/vanity metric when you've got a moat of traction. :)
I hear this a lot. Couldn't be that everyone (makers/founders) addresses these PH/PH spaces because they are packed with early adopters instead of the other industries where every new innovation will be taken with FUD?
And that's the cause that it's under-addressed. It's hard to convince "classic" industries to adopt new SW stuff and new paradigms.
"if someone else could copy your product, and they have more customers/grow better, then you aren't the right fit for it"
Also, nowadays, product is a small part of your company. Can you remember the last time you saw someone having an initial traction just because they have a great product?
You can copy Airtable/Notion as long as you want, adding some more features to it. But it's not how it works, I believe.
I wonder how people generally combat this kind of scenarios.
Be genuinely interested in solving the problems that your users have. Devtools have always been attractive as products to developers, but they are notoriously difficult to be successful with. You need to find all of the workflows that your users have and optimize them effectively. Sometimes the things that are needed are dull and boring, but if they visibly take someone's time then there is long-term value. Be careful about supporting esoteric approaches that will disappear, but also be aware that this can help with locking in some customers at the right point.
Agencies tend to be bad at support. They are optimized for making new things and moving on. You have an opportunity to provide a strong support experience which is coupled with intelligence gathering on developer needs.
AFAIK it's a common practice to copy up and coming indie games from the app store top charts because an established team would have the muscle to catch up and surpass the new ones. I don't see why wouldn't be possible to do it to any other product that is not an overnight success but shows healthy organic growth. I think this was also the idea behind huge early funding rounds, that is to create a large early success so that it's not copied right away.
Organic grows != "we just launch and see how users come to us"
Huge early funding rounds = outstanding team + understanding of market + previous successful exits + 10B TAM
Until they have sizeable operations, all startups are "company == product". They are pretty vulnerable of being copied.
In short one needs to have something is hard to replicate - but that does not need to be technology.
The main argument against that working is that I'd prefer OSS self-hosted options — no one chasing the quick buck is going to go that way!
To take Hacker News as an example, there are many excellent projects posted in the 'Show HN' section that get no traction at all. And then there a few lucky ones that suddenly take-off. There's no "wisdom of the crowds" moment that propels one project to success over another because it's more worthy or excellent - it really is random in so many cases.
We think success = product excellence: how else could a product rise to a leading position in the market or to such pre-eminence unless it was better than the alternatives? But the mountain of successful products ranging from mediocre to terrible quality shows that product excellence isn't always the key ingredient to a product's success.
Lest this all sounds too negative, I would never discourage anyone to pursue their product idea. But when it comes to promoting a product, developers should be cautious about relying on just one source for promoting their product (Hacker News, Product Hunt etc).
I buy software, as a customer, both in my personal life as a consumer and also in my role at a tech company where I'd buy more B2B software. I don't use PH as a resource, but I hear about it a lot. What's it's role in the startup ecosystem / what am I missing out on?
For founders/makers, it's obviously a great source of traffic, leads, and exposure for your product.
For users, it's more about being in on the ground floor with a hot new product. Sometimes that means getting an exclusive deal or free features. Other times it's just the exclusivity of being one of the first customers for something that may be very big one day (think lower user IDs on Twitter or GitHub, for instance).
I think a lot of people like playing with new toys, and PH is a good way to do that without having to spend actual money buying something new to play with. I think it fits in the same niche as those that watch unboxing videos. It's fun to play with new stuff.
Is this actually true? The thing I'm trying to figure out is who is sitting in the audience at PH. Is it really potential customers, or networks of folks somehow connected to the poster that are there just to upvote? Am I atypical in not looking at PH when I'm interested in a solution to a problem I have? (I suspect I'm the norm)
I swear there is an exact, cheaper replica of tools like Canny every day (which itself was a clone of UserVoice before they went enterprise).
Staking your big launch of something truly novel on Product Hunt is just asking for clones with 2-3 months.
I don’t understand how the Product Hunt community keeps upvoting the same product idea, cloned 100x. It feels like it is being gamed somehow, because I can’t be the only one that sees this happening…
Now that I went all-in on it, I think there is much more to it than what you can see at a first glance. There are a lot of dividing factors, like support, features, ... or in our case a unique design and good support for resellers (agencies) and technical people (server-side integration). We have been called copy-cats, but that doesn't mean different people won't find similar solutions for the same issue like it happens with us or in science from time to time.
Before Google became a monopoly, it was just one of many search vendors. Google’s advantage was that they made search easy and simple enough for grandma to understand and use it.
Maybe it's fine to continue as a hobby project, but for business, if it cannot sustain without a significantly large market share, or have too competitive environment, better to work on other problems.
You are right though, if that's the environment you face you just need to move on.