How we became #1 in Product Hunt after being treated like a bug

We launched in Product Hunt last month.

We became the #1 Product of the day on November 23.

This was magical.

I have felt ‘wow’ about those who got there and thought we were not there yet. This is a feeling many entrepreneurs have.

I kept pitching and pitching Bugasura everywhere and people would look at it with a ‘huh!’ When we built the first piece of our bug tracking tool and did a launch, we hardly got 30 upvotes.

Even those, we had to beg for. No shame. Even today we beg and borrow, but don’t steal.

Rejection is the founder’s life

Rejection is not part of life. Rejection is life. This is what founders experience. The early days are all about this.

Having been in the Software Quality space as a thought leader – I still couldn’t get Bugasura into my own friends’ startups. Shame shame, puppy shame, Pradeepa!

My friend runs a successful startup with 100+ devs. He is the CEO. He was gung-ho about what we were building and the vision of, and he asked his team to check this out and adopt it. But the junior-most guy down there was finding bugs in Bugasura instead of seeing how life-changing it can be.

They were with a poor bug tracker themselves. Yet, there was resistance to change.

This is natural; we all face it. I persisted as other founders do too. Nothing moved. Only more feedback on missing features came out. I dropped an email to my friend, saying, “Dey, I am not persisting with your team anymore”.

The CEOs and CTOs I knew couldn’t muster the courage to talk to their teams to bring a change to their current bug-tracking software. We learned an important lesson. Friends and known people are not the real early adopters.

We kept observing the behavior of people who signed up through Adwords and kept refining the signup experience till it worked for one company. That day we knew we had a hope to crack this. They paid and it delighted us even more.

How did the magic happen?

Everything changed when we hired a Marketing Head. Note that we are self-funded. So bringing a top hire Marketing Head would have put a big hole in our startup if it had gone wrong. That’s why I personally put in days of effort to write a JD that would attract the right talent to apply.

This super girl who applied, Rapti, had spent 11 years overall in marketing, and six years with Instamojo where she grew to be Director of Marketing. She wanted to do the 0 to 1 journey again and wasn’t too keen on the 100 – 500 journey where Instamojo is now. Perfect fit.

Even before she came on board, my CTO and I had done a bunch of things to get our first few paying customers from India and the first few international paying customers from countries like the UK, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, and the UAE. We had gotten the product to a good daily active usage. The people paying were actually living by our product and we had like zero churn with them over the eight months they had been paying.

This attracted the super girl to come to join us. She was giving me an appraisal during the interview and said, “Good job, Pradeep. I like the stickiness you have built.” Despite being a five-member dev team that includes front end – back end – that end – this end – we had achieved this before she came on board.

We had international paying customers who discovered us through AdWords + Capterra + G2. We also got some pretty good reviews on Capterra from our existing users and customers. Both Indian and International.

We made a super-duper-free plan. How?

When a company moves from a free plan to a pro plan, what we have seen is – all users are moved to the paid plan. We thought, let’s try something a bit different. Make it a lot more exciting for people to pay.

We made the first 5 users always free. So, a company from the UK brought in a 5-member team to try out and expanded it to their 27-member team. They only pay for 22 users because the first 5 always remain free.

A saturated multi-billion-dollar market is the right place for revolutionary thinkers like us. Issue and bug tracker – people don’t even think of it. They think – Jira is there. Asana is there. ClickUp is there. Trello is there. Why do we need a bug tracker? Worst case, Google Sheets.

We ran a thread in Hacker News asking devs to talk about the issue and bug tracker in use in their company and why they like or not like it. Common and not surprising response – they all hated to be using Jira. Even those who liked Jira thought they were over-customized by admins and the complexity of customization grew to the extent that refactoring was never done. The whole thing was in a state of mess.

We looked at others too. Asana is a PM tool. Trello isn’t a ticketing system but has handy stuff that makes things move fast. ClickUp is good when things are small, but bug tracking, nah! Google Sheets are a joke for bug tracking. Yet, this joke happens. Long ago, I was a victim too.

So, we said, we need a plan that doesn’t limit people from trying what they want to. We made projects unlimited. A lot of tools make projects limited in the free plan. Didn’t matter to us.

Companies who signed up realized that this was helpful even in the free plan because the same team members are part of different projects sometimes. Our own designer contributes to app design, web design, website design, and marketing material design. So, he is part of four projects. That’s what startups are.

This worked well.

We have plenty of startups across the globe from countries that we never imagined to be running software projects using Bugasura. We have several teams from remote parts of Africa that use our free plan. We have banks and sub-teams from Switzerland using our free plan.

Public tracker is a game changer

We did something after observing a need carefully. We spoke to customer success teams on how they filter issues and feedback from customers. We then asked tech teams and QA teams how they address it back. We asked B2B SaaS providers on how they collaborate with their customers and provide transparency to issues their customers report.

Then we built an option to have a public tracker exposed to customers – but where each customer issue is private. This means Customer A reports an issue and can’t see what Customer B reports, but can see things moving on their own reported issue.

A few international customers loved this. One customer from Indonesia quit everything they had set up on Jira and came to because this helped them make more money by solving customer problems faster.

This also attracted an elephant.

A large enterprise from the US, unbelievably large, came to us and said they wanted to use

I personally shooed them away.

I know large enterprise customers very well. They waste money and founders’ time. Too much hope they will give us, founders and salespeople. They are a mess within. Not all, but most.

I shooed them away, saying, “Please use Jira”. I was selling Jira to them.

Think about it. My website says, “Issue tracker that Jira couldn’t build”. They saw that and came to us, and here I was selling Jira to them as a CEO and Founder of Bugasura.

They persisted. They tried selling to me. They explained why they couldn’t use Jira.

I pushed them to another product. They came back saying they didn’t want to get tied into that ecosystem because then change management would become a headache for them.

I pushed them back again. This happened over four different calls on Zoom and Google Meet.

The fourth time, the person on the other side was pissed off with me. He said, “Pradeep, this is the third time I am telling you that I am aware of the options and I came to you, thinking you would be hungry to solve my problem. Are you or should I go away?”

I felt the frustration in his voice was real. I had my CTO on this call. He was like, “Pradeep, don’t get me to build anything for this guy unless there’s money.” But what the customer said convinced him.

We didn’t do customization for them. We deepened an existing feature. That’s all.

A lot of back and forth. The only pending thing is the paperwork for the contract.

Guess how many users they want to onboard – 500.

Life after being #1 in Product Hunt

Some companies who had rejected Bugasura have come back.
Wow! I didn’t expect that.

Things like this started to happen:

A CTO who tried Bugasura and found it more helpful than their existing tool for collaborating with extended teams and customers, which helps close bugs faster and make more money, moved a 40-member team and paid the same day.

Are you kidding, Pradeep?

Earlier I was begging a few CTOs, PMs, and Engineering Heads to try.
Just try.
Simply try.
Over the weekend.
Over your own free time.

They kept saying, “Looks interesting, will give it a try.”
Nothing moved.

Now, after the message from the CTO, and many such messages we got from Product Managers, Product Owners, Devs, and Testers, we are humbled.


The world needs acceptance from the world itself.

Companies do realize the need for an issue tracker and bug tracker that helps them solve their customer’s problems faster.

I will be as helpful as I can to you to enable you to succeed.

I will be the world that enables others – not rejects others.

I will at least connect people to where they can get acceptance.

I won’t say, “I will try” and not try.

I better say, “I will not try” and still give it a try.

We will seek help.
We will continue to seek help.
We will share.
We will continue to share.
We will work together.

About the author

Pradeep Soundararajan

Founder CEO of Bugasura & Moolya
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