How Othership used Breathwork to reach the #1 spot on Product Hunt
We chat to Brian Von Ancken, Head of Partnerships at Othership, about breathwork, revolutionising wellness for busy tech entrepreneurs and becoming the top product of the day on Product Hunt.
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When Othership decided to launch on Product Hunt, they had an MVP that people loved and Head of Partnerships Brian Von Ancken had been a member on the site for a while, and so it was a natural fit for them. Perhaps that’s why they were able to take the site’s coveted #1 spot.
Othership has eight people on the app side of the business, and then they also have a physical business with a larger team where they’ve built out real world spaces such as saunas and cold plunge tanks.
Brian Von Ancken
Imagine Headspace, but for breathwork. It’s fun and accessible. It’s not like taking medicine, and is instead something that you’re excited to be a part of.
To understand Othership, it helps to first understand breathwork, which is when you breathe intentionally and take your time, following instructions to breathe in a certain way. Done properly, it changes the physiology of your body, giving yourself energy like a cup of coffee, or it can help to calm you down at the end of a stressful day.
The team at Othership realised that this was increasingly important for people who are working in the fast-paced startup world, and so they set out to build a platform that could improve people’s lives whilst simultaneously being a viable business.
They’re also leading wellness classes where people do breathwork before sweating it out in the sauna and then taking a cold plunge. Their first one has launched in Toronto and they’re looking to expand throughout the US over the next couple of years.
Brian Von Ancken
We’ve got a small presence in terms of Google and Facebook ads, but we’re taking our time and focusing more on authentic partnerships and education. We’ve been on around 75 podcasts in the past four months and we’ve got a big affiliate campaign and a roster, and so we’re working on those other channels for now.
Othership has already raised a little seed investment, with fundraising taking place three or four months before they launched on Product Hunt. To support their growth, they have Brian working as Head of Partnerships and their CEO who has a strong focus on growth marketing. The rest of their team is largely dedicated to developing the product itself, though they have a social media manager, a copywriter and a video editor who work on a contractual basis.
Right from the outset, Othership aimed to be the top product of the day and to drive a couple of hundred downloads, although those weren’t their only goals. They also wanted to get as many people as possible to interact with them.
Each of those goals was successful, and as well as being the top product of the day, they were also able to become the second highest ranking product of the week. This was especially impressive because they didn’t have a particularly large user base, and they’d only beta tested the app for a month or so beforehand.
Brian Von Ancken
We were excited to get out there and we looked at Product Hunt as a rite of passage. Even though I wouldn’t say we’re the traditional type of company for Product Hunt, it was a nice opportunity to get some eyeballs and to use our network to get where we needed.
When Othership launched on Product Hunt, they had a couple of hundred users, but the launch gave them a huge spike in traffic that helped them to take things to the next level. They received 1,300 upvotes and had over 600 comments, as well as close to a thousand downloads over the course of the week and 500 or so on the first day.
Brian is quick to point out that there were also a number of unmeasurable factors that came out of it, such as the fact that their Product Hunt page became the perfect place to send people to when they were interested in the app. It was an independent third party with videos, testimonials and some comments and likes from big names in the Product Hunt community.
To prepare for their launch on the site, they talked to three or four previous companies who’d had successful launches and then took notes on everything that worked for them. They then used that as the basis of their launch plan.
Brian Von Ancken
We had a Notion document with all of our notes, as well as a plan on what we needed to do and a rough timeline that covered around a month. Then we just focussed on getting things done.
Othership knew that it would be important for them to create marketing assets that helped to sell the product, and so they made a simple video that showed a cat breathing for most of it. They also had content from their app and worked on their copy, as well as an email campaign that went out to the people on their lists.
Brian points out that it’s important to let people know ahead of time that you plan to launch on Product Hunt so that they have time to create an account in advance, as Product Hunt has been known to stop accounts that are less than a week old from voting. They never directly asked for upvotes, but they did find a lot of value from making people aware of the campaign.
On launch day, they messaged people that they knew and tapped into their network to let everyone know that they were live on product hunt. Because most of their network had existing accounts and they were already active in the startup community, they were able to avoid the problems that come from people being unable to vote after creating a new account.
Brian Von Ancken
Our CEO and I have got pretty good networks, and so we woke up at 5 AM and started messaging people individually, rather than sending out a mass email. We also made it as easy as possible for people to vote for us. I woke up and we were in fifth place, so that was a little scary, and we weren’t in first place until about 3 PM. But you get into a groove, create little keyboard shortcuts for reaching out to people and you go from there.
Brian and his team knew that they needed to rank high so that Othership would appear in the preview of the day, because otherwise it’s difficult for people to discover you. They didn’t have that advantage for the majority of the day, but they were able to counteract that through their outreach efforts.
For Othership, it was vital for them to get all of their ducks in a row in their network and to be clear to them about what they were planning and to get them to sign up on Product Hunt if they weren’t already there. A lot of that came down to their Twitter strategy and the fact that they messaged people directly.
Their biggest learning was that they planned for the day and not for the week, and so even though they ended up ranking second for the week, they may have been able to rank first with further planning. Brian says that you need to have a more sustained approach if that’s what you’re aiming for.
Brian Von Ancken
Overall, we did a really good job. Did we milk the most out of getting everybody who came to that page to download our app? Probably not. We could have optimised our website a little more. But we were still very happy with the results that we received.
Brian says that there’s always room for improvements. For example, even though they did okay on LinkedIn, they used a lot of the same text from their other posts and they could have made a bigger splash if they’d created new content with LinkedIn in mind from the outset.
One of their major successes was collaborating with Chris Messina, an established Product Hunt user. They had a meeting with him to understand what he needed, where he gave them some great advice. Afterwards, he helped them to get the word out about their launch.
On launch day, it snowed outside and the Othership team were pretty much snowed in together, which turned out okay because they weren’t paying much attention to the outside world. But other than the snow, the biggest surprise was that they didn’t start gaining momentum until the afternoon.
They were also impressed by how many people commented on their launch and calculated that if the rankings were determined by comments alone, they would have almost been the product of the month.
Brian Von Ancken
You’ve got to be really intentional about which day you launch on. We were also able to get some people to tweet about us, and we ended up getting about a hundred retweets on our CEO’s tweet about the Product Hunt launch. That helped a lot.
Othership is the world’s first on-demand breathwork platform, offering structured programs to reduce stress, improve sleep, boost energy and improve mood.
They started out because their founder was working crazy hours in the crypto space and while he’d tried meditation, he hadn’t been able to get as into it as other people. He’d also noticed that a lot of his colleagues were having problems turning off at the end of the day.
And so their founders came together to create a web app with a small community that offered breathwork via Zoom classes. They rely heavily on music and believe in marrying music and breathwork as the best way to create an experience.
You can find out more about Othership by clicking here to check out their Product Hunt page or by clicking here to visit their website.