How Notion fostered an avid community on Product Hunt

Published on
August 14th, 2022
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Notion, the workspace tool and $10B decacorn, does such a good job at shipping fan features, it seems even Google and Microsoft are paying attention.
Today, Notion boasts over 20M+ monthly active users and has acquired two startups. But as with most software dream stories, the startup’s journey began with just a couple entrepreneurial-minded makers who saw a gap in existing workspace tooling.
Founders Ivan Zhao and Simon Last (the makers) first started working on an app builder that allowed anyone to create tools without learning how to code in 2013. Things weren’t smooth at first – their product kept crashing and they weren’t getting the traction they needed to survive. The makers moved across the world to cut costs and focus on completely redesigning the experience. The product was refined to “an expressive and collaborative document editor.”

How great products like Notion gain adoption through Product Hunt

It didn’t take long for Notion to surface on Product Hunt. In 2015, someone hunted the product to share with the rest of Product Hunt’s community. Even though Ivan and Simon didn’t think their product was quite ready yet for its debut, the cat was out of the bag so they ran with it.
“Oops, we have been trying to keep it low until the 1.0. Guess nothing escapes you Product Hunters,” Ivan wrote. The response to Notion was incredible:
Ivan made the most of it, naming this launch the Beta launch, and asking everyone to stay tuned for the next one where he planned to share more flushed-out features. Ten months later, with anticipation at its height, the makers launched Notion 1.0 and it skyrocketed to Product of the Day, Week, Month.
Notion received over 150 comments from captivated early adopters. It was an overwhelmingly positive response. The makers rode the wave of social proof from their beta launch, and collected much more:
Notion went on to get nominated for a Golden Kitty Award, Product Hunt’s annual celebration of makers and trending tech, amassing 5,300 upvotes and counting. Another year and a half later, Notion 2.0 launched.
“About 1.5 years ago, we released Notion 1.0 on Product Hunt,” Ivan wrote.” At that time, the company was just my co-founder Simon and I, and we were nearly running out of money (thanks mom for the bridge!) If not for the Product Hunt launch and the overwhelming support from this community, we wouldn't have made it…” That launch gained 8,600+ upvotes and achieved #1 Product of the Day, Week, and Month.

How Notion turned feedback into fan-favorite features

Ivan and Simon used the 180+ comments across Notion’s first couple of launches to highlight their tool’s values over its competitors and to collect valuable feedback from high-interest tech people. This feedback helped to shape later versions of Notion.
For example, a top request from users was an iOS app, which the makers were already heads down on. “Message us your requests in the app (via the little '?' on the bottom left), and we'll build it,” Ivan responded (they did).
Ben Lang, Notion’s Head of Community, also shared with us how Notion views feedback from Product Hunt:
“I think Product Hunt’s great for feedback from early adopters. I find that the community always shares really interesting input with makers.
Although I wasn’t at Notion back when the first launches happened, I know in the early days when Notion was hunted on Product Hunt, the founders were very engaged in reading all the feedback. All of this feedback played a big role in improving Notion over the following years. "

How Product Hunt helped Notion foster its dynamic community

Ben himself discovered Notion on Product Hunt.
“I’m probably one of many who discovered Notion on Product Hunt,” shared Ben, “My journey at Notion started thanks to Product Hunt. I tried Notion two or three times and it didn't click. The third time, it really clicked, and I was hooked. I was so excited about Notion, I decided to build a template gallery and launch it on Product Hunt. I spent a few months building that out and eventually connected with the Notion team. ”
Notion began harnessing the power of the community it had built on Product Hunt early in its history (like attracting Ben to the team), but its new Notion Template Gallery started to deepen those ties, offering no-code makers opportunities to build products on top of Notion.
“The support we found here in the Product Hunt community was overwhelming and so, so important to us — we're still super grateful,” Ivan Zhao wrote on the launch page. “So today, we're excited to launch something that's designed top to bottom for the Notion community itself.”
Then in 2021 Notion continued forging its path in SaaS, launching its API and encouraging developers and creators to have at it. Since then, over 700 makers have launched 900+ Notion products on Product Hunt. Products built on top of Notion became so bountiful that Product Hunt created a Category just for them.
“At this point, I think we’re seeing at least one (sometimes two or three!) product being launched every day,” Ben shared. “I think the biggest benefit for us is seeing the community tackle things that we would otherwise never think of ourselves. It’s inspiring to see all the ways people are using Notion today. "
Now engaging with makers on Product Hunt has become an important part of Ben’s work. “The effort these makers put into building these products is impressive, so acknowledging that is critical for us. I try to respond and reach out to everyone who launches something related to Notion on Product Hunt. I also like to share the things people are building with the rest of the team.”

Reach that goes beyond launch day

Even with funds to support new strategies, Ben said that Notion continues to use Product Hunt as a channel for growth and community health.
“Product Hunt became a great place to stay engaged with Notion’s community of builders. There’s a lot of overlap between Notion users and Product Hunt users. Folks who use Product Hunt regularly, oftentimes get excited seeing something that's built on Notion.
And a lot of users are still discovering Notion for the first time on Product Hunt. It’s great having this kind of visibility for launches, reviews, and even open jobs. It’s a win-win.”

Product Hunt’s role in future launches

As Notion has grown, the team of makers inside the startup has grown too. Product Hunt has continued to be an important part of Notion’s launch and community strategy, with new Notion makers taking the helm in proceeding launches.
“Every time a company launches something big on Product Hunt, it gets a lot of visibility with a very engaged audience between the website, the newsletter, and social. It’s the best place to launch something new,” Ben shared.
“When it comes to our own launches, we’ve done one for every substantial launch we’ve had — things like a new version of Notion, our API, and our template gallery. I’m looking forward to more launches in the future.”
Comments (26)
Elizabeth Obee
@cristina_bunea2 @ivanhzhao this is such a great case study. We are just new to Product Hunt, launched today, and seeing your story is so insightful for us. Thank you for preparing it and writing it up!
@ivanhzhao @liz_obee And how was the launch? Any tips from you?
Mike Hsiao
This is inspiring and glad we are notion users too.
Jorgo Qirjaj
@web3scan I was about to say the same! Reading this made me feel so happy to be an everyday user of Notion.
Eugene Nnamdi
Notion is my go-to app for scheduling tasks and work.
Chantal Cho
interesting story!
Alex (Sasha) Dolgov
Very usefull insights about launch strategy!