Show HN to Funding (In < 3 Months)
by Jarrett Streebin
We're hiring! Drop us a line to <i>firstname.lastname@example.org</i>
After months of customer development and feedback from friends we were ready to launch EasyPost. We had never done a Show HN before so we weren't sure what type of traffic to expect, but we knew it was the best audience for our product (a simple API for postage). We couldn't have fathomed the response that we received and where it has taken us.
On September 18, 2012 we launched EasyPostopens in new tab. The problem we solve is very similar to the broader problem solved by Stripe (or Twilio): making dated APIs for critical services easier to access. Thus, we called ourselves the "Stripe for postage." This part is important. If you're going to do a Show HN, or any news story for that matter, all you have is the headline. Don't assume your name alone is enough to garner interest. Tie yourselves to a product that's known and loved within the HN community and you'll drastically increase your chances of success (in this case, upvotes).
What we launched on the 18th was nothing like what we have today. It was a simple bootstrap site with an email form and code samples (which I mimicked based on Stripe's). For good reason, native email forms do better than LaunchRock on HN, so that's what we did.
Luckily, because this is really important, Ilya from Parse told me to include a survey right after signup. From email/name the users went straight to a survey about their shipping needs: amount of postage bought each month, carriers needed, current issues, feedback. Because of the survey after signup we knew that X users were interested in EasyPost AND what services they needed and what size of customer they were (this will help when we get to the fundraising part).
Around 11am PST we submitted the post and crossed our fingers…
We were quickly getting upvoted. Had we tapped into some latent desire for (finally!) a RESTful JSON API for postage? Or was it enough to just call us "Stripe for…" something? Who knows, but it was working.
Within an hour we had about fifty upvotes. This was enough to get us near the top and within the next hour we hit the top spot. As far as I can tell (the HN Chrome extension has some bug where it doesn't always popup with a new #1 post) we were at the top of HN for about an hour.
24 hours later we had hundreds of signups and more importantly, we knew what services these users wanted and how much they spend on shipping.
Within a week we had an email from SV Angel expressing interest in EasyPost. Within three months we had funding from them and a handful of others and were well on our way.