How This French Startup Won Product Hunt’s Mobile App of the Day

Ever wondered what it would be like to have your startup hunted/listed/featured, or whatever, on Product Hunt in 48 hours?

I have good news for you.

This post will give you the full story of my experience, first-hand, of how it all went down for this French startup from the unexpected launch to being crowned as iOS Mobile App of the Day.

But, first…

I have a word for you and I bet you can’t guess what it means. Well, maybe not right now, but you will soon enough.

Ready for it? It’s Gabsee.

So wtf is Gabsee and why do I care?

That’s probably what a lot of people were thinking when Gabsee won Mobile App of the Day this past Tuesday morning.

...Until they downloaded the app and LOVED it.

Let me tell you more about the company

Gabsee, a French startup from Paris, is a mobile app that allows users to express themselves through a 3D avatar in Augmented Reality. This startup is one of 13 foreign founded startups in Fleet #2 of The Refiners Startup Accelerator Program.

Co-founders, Lucas, Arthur, and Bruno joined The Refiners to have an opportunity to come to San Francisco and achieve one goal – scale their startup exponentially to the U.S. market. Running your own startup in Europe has a major limitation, the ability to expand your startup more than to the local market.

Here in Silicon Valley, however, a startup can gain huge momentum in an instant and grow globally much faster.

“Many U.S. startups launch with a boom, creating massive media coverage, getting thousands of users within the first weeks and continue their growth marathon as long as they can in the hope that the momentum will be enough to reach critical mass.” - StartupGrind

And that’s exactly what happened for Gabsee. Maybe not the same user growth per se, but reach critical mass with exposure, yes. Many thanks to Product Hunt.

For those of you who don’t know about Product Hunt – it’s a website that curates the best new products, every day. Being on Product Hunt is a notable accolade since only the top 1% of product submissions actually make it on their website.

Because of their thousands of daily website visitors, being on their site definitely increases your startup’s chance to be the next ‘tech unicorn.’

"Product Hunt is a daily voting based, popularity contest for startups. The price of this contest is that you can appear on the multiple platforms of Product Hunt (website, Twitter, newsletter).
Ever since its inception in 2013, Product Hunt became an essential part of most Silicon Valley product launches. The biggest advantage of this platform is that you can appear in front of various journalists, tech people, fellow founders, potential users and basically anyone who is involved in the tech business." - Gabor Papp via Hackernoon

So how do you get on Product Hunt?

It’s not that easy, but pretty simple.

Product Hunt’s community is filled with reputable Hunters that ‘hunt’ around to post what they believe will be the next big startup. Hunters are reputable individuals that Product Hunt trusts to introduce the next great product to the community.

In order to be posted on Product Hunt, Product Hunters must submit products on their own behalf and they are then subjected to review by Product Hunt’s moderators.

They receive hundreds of submissions every day, so 99% of products don’t get featured at all on Product Hunt’s home page…

Erik Torenbery, Founding Team of Product Hunt

Erik Torenbery, Founding Team of Product Hunt

If your product hasn't gone "live" within 48 hours, it was not approved.

To learn more about how Product Hunt works and how to successfully launch your own product, here's a great post that covers it.

How Gabsee got their big break on Product Hunt

Earlier that week, The Refiners threw a Welcome Party for the 13 startups in Fleet #2 to present their pitch for the first time to the San Francisco community and potential investors.

Fortunately for Gabsee, there was someone at the event that posted them on social media and their follower (huge coincidence, not really, though) happened to be a ‘Hunter’ that found interest in their product so he decided to submit their startup on Product Hunt the following day. 

Check out Gabsee's Product Hunt page here!

Product Hunter, Sanem Avcil via Product Hunt 

Product Hunter, Sanem Avcil via Product Hunt 


Being ‘hunted’, the good and the bad

Let’s be real, there’s no bad aspect of being submitted on Product Hunt.

Except when you have no idea of what to do next. Funny thing is that most startups hunted don’t know what to do next, i.e. Gabsee.

There is a strategy that should be in place in case a surprise launch on Product Hunt happens. For example, what to say in your initial PR to your hunter and Product Hunt community.

I remember sitting at my desk, and it was so great seeing five minutes of celebratory high fives, hugs, and hoorays. But then it stopped. That’s when Lucas, Arthur, and Bruno needed to figure out ‘what the heck do we do next?’ And figure it out fast because the window of opportunity is short.

I’ll give you a hint...Thank your hunter!

Lucas did a great job with this.

His response sounded genuine, he concisely explained Gabsee’s purpose for creating the app and closed with his vision for it.

Gabsee Co-founder, Lucas Bouyoux via Product Hunt

Gabsee Co-founder, Lucas Bouyoux via Product Hunt


If you have the choice, don’t launch your product on Friday or over the weekend

Why? The main reason is because there is no newsletter on the weekend so lower website traffic. Your goal is to be on featured on the Product Hunt Homepage so your product gets massive marketing exposure which leads to more app downloads and more new users.

The only way to get there is to have the top amount ‘upvotes’ on the website within a 24 hour period. So lower website traffic = lower chance of getting upvotes.

Daily of activity of past Product Hunt launches by Kartik Mandeville

Daily of activity of past Product Hunt launches by Kartik Mandeville


Gabsee gets featured and wins iOS Mobile App of the Day

After what I’m sure a rollercoaster of a weekend passed, Gabsee was a featured app on the Product Hunt Homepage. BOOM.

The very next day, an unsuspected surprise was announced on our Slack #general channel... Gabsee won Product Hunt’s iOS Mobile App of the Day!


“With great power comes great responsibility”

Some launches go really well and some don’t...

With Gabsee, it went tremendously well and led to meetings with potential investors that Wednesday and a meeting at the Facebook HQ in Menlo Park on Thursday!

But this didn’t JUST happen.

It was a culmination of things, of course.

Thanks to The Refiners and their network to get them in front of the right people, but most importantly – how Gabsee defined their startup’s purpose for creating this product for you.

“We want to unleash people’s craziness! There should be any no boundaries in self-expression. With Gabsee we allow people to fully express themselves through their own avatar in Mixed Reality.” - Lucas Bouyoux, Gabsee Co-founder

The Conclusion

Capitalize on any opportunity that you have because like most startups here in Silicon Valley, you will only have one.

Word spreads fast in SV, and one event has the power to dictate your startup’s success. Gabsee, remember they're a French based startup, has only been in SF for less than one week before their big break. One week but has already been invited to meet with Facebook and attend F8.

This didn’t happen by luck, well, maybe a little. But the reason for their success had a lot to do with their message, their company purpose and serendipity of the SV. That ‘Why?’ factor that Simon Sinek talks about in his famous TED talk.

Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. That’s why The Refiners strategically focuses the first two weeks of their program on figuring that out.

At The Refiners, you discover that you need to be more than a product. You need to be driven by a real purpose and solve a real problem.

You’re not going to succeed in the Valley by having the coolest product or because you’re hip or smart. You succeed because you’re driven by a vision, mission, and purpose. By being different.

It’s moments like this that give us entrepreneurs hope.

That's what The Refiners do for foreign startups.


Want to check out the Gabsee App? Here’s the link to their awesome app!

Do you know a startup that got featured on Product Hunt like Gabsee?

Leave a comment below. We want to know about your experience with their Product Hunt launch. Tell us how you would’ve handled this one shot of fame!

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