April 18th around 6:30pm I posted my project, EatHow, on Hacker News with the title “Show HN: Two years after coding bootcamp and I finally built something”. At around 7:10 pm it was on the front page at #13. At 8pm mods changed the title to “Show HN: EatHow — Figure out what to make with the food you already have” and it went up to #6. The highest it reached was #4 around 9 pm, where it stayed for another hour.

Sounds great right?

Out of the 2306 visitors that night, 87 started the tutorial, the first step in the signup process. Of those, one signed up. That’s one email. Ouch.

Reading through the comments on hacker news, it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. Even with a 14-day free trial, nobody wanted to pay.

I wasn’t completely discouraged, all the attention told me this is close to being something people really want. It did feel like a missed opportunity though.

Fortunately, I would get a second shot.

The next morning someone posted EatHow on Product Hunt and it was being featured! Not only that but it was back on the front page of HN at #11. This meant thousands of visitors, even more than the night before. However, if something didn’t change to encourage people to sign up, all that traffic would go to waste again.

I had to change something quick. Every hour meant hundreds of potential users. My options:

A. Lower the price from $3.99 to $1.99 (per month), extend the trial to 60 days and make it clear that no credit card is required.

The fact is, there are other apps that do what EatHow does for free. Is EatHow so much better that it’s worth paying $3.99/month for? Not according to those 2300+ people.

Would this have brought in more users? Sure. 1 of 2306 isn’t a high bar to beat. I’m skeptical it would have been a huge difference though.

B. Make it free and figure out how to monetize later.

Again, all this attention tells me people are interested but the fact that they aren’t willing to pay means either this problem isn’t big enough or this solution isn’t good enough.

I’m betting on the latter and that’s okay. I didn’t expect to hit a home run on my first swing and have no shortage of ideas that will make this site an indispensable tool in people’s lives.

To test those ideas and figure out if I’m headed in the right direction I’ll need analytics and feedback. The best way to get those is with users. The more the merrier, so free it is.

Immediately after the change, the percentage of people who start the tutorial went up from 4% to over 60% where it has stayed. Total users is a little over 250. Though the percentage of people who reach the last step and sign up is still low.

Where I Could Have Done Better

There’s an idea in UX that goes something like “You are not your user, you’re especially not your user when they’re trying to figure out who you are and what you do.”

The tutorial new users go through would convert better if I had done some real testing on it, instead I asked one or two friends what they thought. This costs me at least 100+ users, probably more. Not a huge deal but definitely sloppy.

What Now?

Thousands of people have used EatHow in the past few weeks and besides the tutorial needing work, the numbers show that retention isn’t looking too hot.

That tells me I haven’t reached product market fit and my focus should be working on retention, that is, making EatHow better for you, the users. There are already some cool things coming soon but you’ll have to sign up to see ;)

Stay tuned for the next update.

Here’s what happened when my Startup got on the Front Page of Hacker News and Product Hunt was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.