If you updated Chrome, you might have noticed your ‘new tab page’ looks different. Gone are the apps you probably never really used, and now hitting that ctrl+t you see your new tab screen populated with your most visited pages, just in case you needed a reminder to visit them. Like any widely adopted platform, the loudest consensus among users is “change is bad” no matter if it’s a positive or negative direction, and as StartHQ found, that momentum can be taken advantage of.
The Helsinki-based browser extension that leads you to new or your favorite web apps is bringing innovation to the ‘New Tab’ page, focusing back on the web apps, but providing a deeper level of interactivity for users. For example, hitting that ‘new tab’ button on Chrome with the StartHQ browser extension installed you see web apps, like Gmail, Trello, Spotify, and others, but mousing over them you get links to more specific parts of the app, like the “compose a new message” part of Gmail. The extension also helps you find similar apps (like say you like Trello, but want to try something different) and lets you know what people in your company are using, since you likely trust their opinion.
After Google’s update, one of StartHQ’s users suggested this would be a good chance for them to promote their product, since the user found StartHQ while searching for new-tab alternatives. Cofounder Oleg Podsechin said it was a spur of the moment decision to push their story to Reddit and Hacker News. The posts got traction, and after this bump, says they’re now growing over two times the normal amount of daily sign ups, from around 40 a day to 120+.
For startup founders out there, I’m a fan of Podsechin’s Show HN strategy, because I feel like I don’t see that personal touch that often anymore. He takes the time to answer every question or statement, and pushes for people to get involved, in a positive way, by telling them to add points to their backlog. I’ve always been a fan of early-stage founders that answer every question in the comments of articles as it makes the product come across as that much more personal.
To keep up the momentum, Podsechin points out that the Chrome store has a feedback loop- the more installs of their app, the more prominently it’s featured there. But additionally they have all sorts of tips to rate the extension.
“Finally, we’ve added weekly update mails, which email you news and blog posts from the apps you use, as well as some of the latest apps. This keeps people engaged and is super useful. We ourselves found out that Flowdock just made their 5 user plan free via our own update email, so will start using it this week,” he says.
Coming out next, Podsechin says they’re going after more powerful searching features, like a Mac OS Spotlight for your cloud apps, allowing you to search keywords though all the apps you’re using.
I wasn’t sure what to think about StartHQ for some time, it seemed a little like reinventing the wheel, even though I knew a good team was behind it. But the wheel is no longer there to use as a baseline, and the product is pretty simple and powerful – I find myself actually using my web apps more.
Last week before Google came out with the Chrome update, Podsechin demoed these new features and more at ArcticStartup Announce.
StartHQ can be found in the Chrome store here.