33
31 Comments

How we won Product Hunt “Video of the Year” and 2.3k upvotes as a total newcomer

Hey!

We love reading tips from start-ups that have succeeded in doing something well, so we figured we’d share some of our own insights.

We’ve released a new video for today’s product launch, which is the perfect time to reflect on how we won Product Video of the Year as a totally under-the-radar start-up on Product Hunt last year. It’s a cool story, and also an amazing achievement for us to have experienced so early on in our journey.

First of all, here is our newest launch video. If it somehow made you laugh, intrigued, or just gave you a good moment, we’d be thrilled about your support ⚡️

https://www.producthunt.com/posts/tl-dv-for-zoom

When we were starting out, we had to knock on everyone’s doors (figuratively - we’re talking Linkedin inboxes and the like). Basically, we were asking everyone to give our product a try. Raising awareness around our product definitely seemed like the biggest challenge at times. It was time-consuming, and outreach often had underwhelming levels of success.

tl;dv was a tiny team shooting in the dark. Fast forward a little bit, and we’ve won Video of the Year on Product Hunt - gaining 100,000s of views and new users in the process. Fast forward not long after that, and we’ve raised several millions of euros in capital.

SO HOW DID WE DO IT?

One thing was immediately obvious. We had to be different. To get noticed on Product Hunt (a platform that launches thousands of new products every year) you REALLY have to stand out. Being memorable is essential. So considering we’re a video-based product, we felt it made sense to do something creative with video. But we had a problem: budget. We were extremely limited by how much money we could spend. Hiring an agency to produce a flashy video was simply out of the question.

IN SEARCH OF INSPIRATION

We turned to TikTok for inspiration. Our target audience is Gen Z and Millennial professionals, so TikTok made sense as a platform to get marketing inspiration from. By chance, we discovered a hilarious creator through the video below (it still makes us laugh, honestly).

https://www.tiktok.com/@tomasbudin/video/6896875138545962241

The more of Tom’s content we watched, the more we felt like he really captured something we wanted to embody as a brand: effortless, silly comedy - and tons of pop culture references (Tom is frequently editing himself into movies with a green screen).

In recent years, with social media ‘stories’ and TikTok, it feels like video content is claiming the space that used to be dominated by picture-based memes. So a comedy video seemed like the right direction for us. We also knew that this format might resonate well with the Product Hunt community. Needless to say, we reached out to Tom.

BUT…HE’S SO POPULAR?

Tom had a huge following on TikTok, so we decided to target him on Twitter instead, where he had fewer followers and seemed more approachable. This is something worth emphasizing: CHANNEL MATTERS. We were super personal in our message to him, and really took the time to show how we were genuine fans of his craft and content. It was important that he wouldn’t mistake our message for some boilerplate that we were mass-sending to 50+ content creators. He replied immediately.

PLOT TWIST

But…he said he wasn’t interested. It didn’t matter - we were so persistent that eventually, he agreed. So that's the next point worth emphasizing: STAY ON IT! As a brand new start-up, you really can’t be afraid to ask (or too proud to beg!).

We agreed on a budget that was worthwhile for Tomas as a creator, but still affordable for us as a start-up. A lot of people who watched our launch video assumed an agency was involved, but nope - an agency would have cost us about ten times as much. Founders, you can honestly achieve so much more than you think on the budget you have. It’s the cringiest saying out there, but honestly: THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.

THE BRAINSTORMING

As soon as Tom agreed, we started brainstorming concepts. Our brief was pretty simple. Since our mission at tl;dv is to reduce meeting inefficiency and enable async+remote collaboration, we really wanted the video to express how much ‘deep work’ is disturbed by too many meetings. ‘Focus time interrupted by meeting’ was basically the theme, and Tom took on the ideation from there.

He suggested a famous scene from ‘The Shining’, in which Jack Nicholson gets interrupted by his wife while he’s working, and totally overreacts. Do you think it’s easy to green screen yourself into a movie scene? Let us tell you…it’s not. The script iterations and editing took forever to get right. There’s so many pre-requirements for the editing to work. For example, the movie scene in question can’t have any camera movement.

OUR CREATIVE PRINCIPLES

We decided on two creative principles for the video:

It’s more important to tell a story and entertain our viewers than promote our product. After all, we’re marketing to a generation of people who are constantly bombarded by ads and commercials. We had to believe that if we could be truly funny, then the product would sell itself. Surely a video that made our audience laugh would raise interest in our product more than if we went super hard on the promotional aspect? (Spoiler: we were right)

We also wanted to include an Easter Egg that would be appropriate for the platform’s audience. Since the Product Hunt logo is a cat (and everyone in the start-up community associates cats with Product Hunt) we put a little cat in the video. Tailoring the video to the channel was definitely a smart move - several people noticed and appreciated the Easter Egg.

LAUNCH DAY

We launched…and it was INSANE! On every platform where we posted the video, we got 100,000s of views. Needless to say, we immediately saw a spike in users, investment interest, and overall recognition. It’s one year later, and at least once a week someone still contacts me about our launch video and asks when we’ll do another one. Well…that’s the thing.

We’re dropping our 2nd launch video today, premiering on Product Hunt TODAY :D

https://www.producthunt.com/posts/tl-dv-for-zoom

tl;dv is now not only available for Google Meet, but also for Zoom. This may never have been possible without the recognition we gained thanks to our collaboration with Tom, so you can imagine how happy we are that he’s also the creative brains behind our second launch video. We hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think, and that you found our story motivating :)

tl;dr:

It’s worth being different

Channel matters

Be persistent

Entertain first, sell second

  1. 1

    Thank you sharing this!

  2. 1

    It was a good guide for me and my team before the launch.

  3. 2

    Wow, awesome!!!
    The video. The article. Everything. Love it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. 4

    Yes, creativity at high.

  5. 3

    Congratulation to all of you! I think we have a new winner of the golden kitty video for this year 🚀

    1. 1

      Thanks a ton for your support, Michael! Always motivating to read something like that🔥

  6. 2

    Great story! I upvoted too, awesome video 👍

  7. 2

    Love your insights carlo, thanks a lot for sharing

  8. 2

    Hey Carlo,

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful experiences. A really inspiring and very successful launch, congratulations.

    I have a repulsive and boring product called MonitUp.com, they call it the devil's app on twitter :)

    A great video like yours can really make a huge difference for MontUp. I'll consider your wonderful launch as an example how I can do this.

    I have very few clients yet, my ad budget is $0 :) If you have any suggestions for MonitUp I would really like to hear it.

    1. 2

      Hey Faruk, thanks for sharing!

      $0 budget is always difficult but I'd recommend digging a little bit on TikTok and Instagram for work-related content. There are many tiny comedians and video makers who love to experiment.

      The key motivation for us was: have fun and experiment with Tom - it worked very well. We then decided to keep working together - he joined our team as a full-time employee!

      1. 2

        Carlo,

        Yes I will do that one day. I've added it to my to-do list :) It's so much more awesome than those boring ads.

        1. 2

          Cool! Happy to connect on Twitter if you want to exchange some ideas.

          1. 1

            Of course, I added you!

  9. 2

    Loved the video! You folks have a great talent when it comes to launch videos

    1. 1

      Thanks for the compliment, Kavir! Much much appreciated

  10. 1

    Execution is flawless! The product is awesome! Well done!

  11. 1

    Wonderful execution!

  12. 1

    This is genius and beautifully executed. You mind sharing a general ballpark figure of your investment in Tom for the video?

  13. 1

    Well thought and well planned project. You have hooked me with both sharing this information with us and quality videos.

  14. 1

    I really liked your creative approach! Awesome video!

  15. 1

    Thanks for the great story! I like it how your persistence made Tom agreed.
    I wonder, what did this result on Product Hunt give you in terms of user acquisition?

  16. 1

    Congratulations! Loved that you made the most of what you had!

  17. 1

    I launched a product on PH last month and I wish I'd seen your post before. The tips are gold, especially the one about staying persistent and not giving up to get the partnerships you want. Both videos are hilarious. It's amazing you've done all this work without an agency involved.

  18. 1

    Being creative and different is the only way to stand out in a busy market. GJ!

  19. 1

    Thank you for sharing this super inspiring story!!! I loved every detail of it. Sure, I checked out the video and had a good laugh (and kept asking myself: how did they do it? the video is perfect!).

    Indeed, a product that appeals to a wide audience + a catchy and funny video is a great combo, happy that it worked out so well for you guys! The best PH video from last year for me was the Infinity Maps video (they did it totally by themselves and I've watched it many times), but your video will surely be my fave of 2022 :D

  20. 1

    That's awesome, thanks for sharing! Congrats!

  21. 1

    The silence after "Google Meet" xD
    Really well done. Happy to see persistence awards creative approaches!

  22. 1

    Hello Carlos,

    I just wanted to say that your text is wonderful and very enlightening about how impactful and important a product launch is. I hope to follow suit and maybe one day launch a successful product too.

    ps: the video is very great hahahah

Trending on Indie Hackers
50 investors said no to us !😥So, now we are building our startup in public💪 20 comments The data proves you don't need a co-founder 16 comments Google add-on for SEO 14 comments My product is not first-need, should I keep working on it? 7 comments Why modern software is so slow 6 comments Indie Hackers' Hall of Fame 6 comments