Product Hunt Wins Best New Startup Of 2014

Product Hunt, the online community where members submit and vote up the best new tech products, has been taking the industry by storm as founders, investors, early adopters and other tech enthusiasts now check the site on a daily basis. Today, the company also has the honor of winning the Crunchie award for “best new startup,” beating out runner-up Shyp to take home the trophy.

The award was presented this evening at the 8th Annual Crunchies Awards, the competition hosted by TechCrunch and VentureBeat, which seeks to recognize the most notable startups and innovations of the year.

Product Hunt began its life in 2013 as an email newsletter about founder Ryan Hoover’s favorite products, and then grew to become an online destination where users could submit and then vote up their own favorites, similar to something like Reddit. Later, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian also invested in the service when the company raised its $6.1 million Series A this fall, which was led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Said Ohanian at the time, what Reddit had done for communities sharing content, “Product Hunt would do for communities sharing things.”

The site has continued to improve in the months since, with updates to user profiles and the addition of social features that let users follow one another. More recently it has added tools that allow users to curate their own product collections. Before, Product Hunt’s collections were implemented by editors who would focus on a theme, or they would be offered by guest curators like Nas, for example.

Another recent addition from just a month ago introduced direct messaging to founders. Because the site has proven to be a popular place for tech company founders to get early feedback and generate interest in their software, hardware or services, many of these startup founders would pop into the site’s Q&A section to field questions. But reporters had asked for a way to message founders directly, instead of having to participate in the public forum or hunt down contact information from elsewhere on the web. The feature may be expanded to VCs in the future, Product Hunt noted at the time.

However, what makes Product Hunt so popular isn’t just a sum of its features, but rather the quality of the community that it has grown. The products that find their way to the top of the site often later become the next day’s headlines. Or sometimes, the products getting headlines become Product Hunt’s favorites of the day.

Eventually, the team may choose to expand its focus beyond the tech industry with the site, allowing members to curate other types of products, too.

Runner-Up: Shyp

Shyp, the runner-up for tonight’s “Best New Startup” Crunchie, deserves a shout-out as well. Though it may have lost the popular vote, the on-demand shopping company has been working hard to make it easy for anyone to “ship their stuff” anywhere. The company picks up your items, packs them and sends them on your behalf – all from your mobile phone.

Over the past year, San Francisco-based Shyp has been quickly expanding into new markets, including New YorkMiami and, soon, L.A. The company, backed by $12.1 million in outside funding, also just launched on Android last month.