Discailmer: By no means are the following explanations a golden rule and of course there will be exceptions. The following generalization is the sum of my exposure and experiences in launching products or observing the makers environment.
For the past 4 years I have been following the makers, startups, side-projects and so on communities that launch products in success or not. I have no concrete data and all my conclusions are based on empirical data.
But lets keep it short. I have generated a pyramid, outlining the 3 different aspects that can result in success.
Unlike the pyramid of project development, you can have all 3 points at the same time.
Money follows attention.
This can be related to different psychological effects such as the herd mentality, virality, FOMO etc.
The bigger amount of exposure that a project or the team/person/company delivering it gets, the more likely it is to be massively adopted.
Of course this does not include extremes in which the product is utterly useless or broken in some way. We always assume that the end product is of decent value proposition, but not necessarily of great value for money, people do not always look for the best ROI on their purchases or they might value a different attribute like status quo, but I am diverging..
The rule of "Money follows attention" has long been established by economists and it is represented in quite a few examples in our time.
I will use an internet sweetheart, Elon Musk as the example. Apart from his solid enterprises like SpaceX, Tesla he launches a variety of small side-projects like "The
not a Flamethrower", a surfing board, a hat.. They are all by far not innovative, do not provide much of a usecase or fill the gap and if, for example your dorm roommate decided to sell them, they would most likely bottom unless he had 1 of the pyramid points.
In the case of Elon, he has at minimum Attention. People feast on his tweets the moment he makes an announcement be it, about SpaceX, AI or about zombie fighting flamethrowers. Of course this does not exclude the other factors and Elon Musk is currently a person who has gathered all 3 attributes, but more on that later.
Product Hunt is a platform in which you showcase your newly release product or feature. At its start, the platform provided a small number of curated products to a big pool of interested individuals (nowadays not so much).
By doing so it provided you with the attribute of Attention, exposing yourself and your product to a dedicated group that value the authors (Ryan) opinion on selecting those products.
The 1/N attribute is the division of your time/self/resource (in any form) by an infinite number N.
In more layman terms, the shotgun approach.
We have numerous examples of this - take Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups. He has admitted himself that there is no magic sauce in making investment decisions. What you need is that 1 correct investment that will provide a 100+% return, allowing your other decisions to, if not fail completely, return an equal amount as invested.
Entrepreneur First has also the same approach. They might not shout it out loud, but their current setup is backed by this methodology. They spark up small incubators running twice a year all over the world in major tech hub cities, thus spreading a wide net of operations that they then back with a low cost aiming for that 1 unicorn.
Going back to Elon Musk, although he has a more structured approach to things and has a sense of motivation behind his creations, he does divide his time to more than one thing, either because he thinks it is of more importance for mankind (SpaceX) or because he needs to generate a specific amount of cash (Boring Company).
My last example would come from the world of Makers and noone else than Pieter Level comes to mind.
I have expressed in an IndieHackers post that I find him quite arrogant and it was fun that he saw it and replied.
Regardless however, I do admire what he has done. His approach was to start making X amount of products in Y set time by doing the least amount of work until 1 of them provided some sort of validation, a.k.a product market fit.
Although his approach was also heavily reliant on the attribute of Attention, noone can deny that his resilience in continuing to explore and create products was the spark.
High Availability Resources
By resources, we mean money, tech know-how, marketing skills. Any skill that increases your ability to search / evaluate and create, gets you closer to the real case being tested by the outside environment.
In simpler words, if you do know how to setup a landing page for your product, it will move you vastly ahead of other people who would need to hire someone.
On the other hand, having a big pool of money that you can invest/hire brings you also ahead of someone who has an idea.
The problem with availability resources is that they require to be of a specific high level in order to make a difference.
Having 30 minutes a day to spend on your project does not mean it will never be ready to be tested by the community you target, but it will take you a considerable more time to market than someone who works 4 days a week.
If we look at our aforementioned people, they all had the resources or they managed to acquire them.
Elon Musk had his great boom after selling Paypal and then investing his everything on SpaceX and Tesla. (This should not exclude his tenacity towards learning and his ability to execute)
Dave McClure started after he had made 1 successful investment that allowed him to re-invest his earnings.
Pieter coding his projects by focusing on minimizing his time spent thus multiplying his time's output.
Is that all? Is it that easy?
As I mentioned in the pre-face, these attributes are not a golden rule.
There is also one more ingredient that plays a big part. However, that ingredient cannot be attained.
It is Luck.
Sometimes you have to be in the right place in the right time, tweet the correct phrase that attracts someone's attention and so on.
The rest of the attributes can be obtained through work. Do not get me wrong, it is not easy but our environment suggests that it is doable.
I have no magic phrase or motivational speech to end this. Just go do your thing and maybe keep these attributes in mind - not just to try and apply them, but also to help you understand what other people go through.