Make Something People Love: Lessons From a Startup Guy

by Alexis Ohanian

What's in the book?

Learn how reddit became the world's biggest online community!

    • Make Something People Want
    • Know Your “Why”
    • reddit: The $500 Advertising Budget
    • hipmunk: Design Your Way to Your User's Heart
    • Breadpig: The Power of Connectivity
    • How to Take the Offensive

    Book featured on Forbes and The Next Web!




So, you want to learn how to make a product people love—that’s great! But stop right there. Before you can make something people love, you have to make something people want . . .

What’s challenging and wonderful about the web is that tricks of perception alone will not work. Anything you create actually has to be good. No matter how much you try to convince someone to buy or use your product, they are always only a back button away from something more interesting.

The internet is the most efficient marketplace for ideas that has ever existed, but your competition is stiff, and comes in all forms.


Alexis Ohanian is a startup founder and investor in Brooklyn, NY.

After graduating from UVA in 2005, Alexis and his co-founder Steve Huffman started reddit, which has become one of the most popular social news websites online.

After leaving his full-time position at reddit, Alexis focused on running his social enterprise Breadpig. Described as a "Newman's Own for nerds," Breadpig publishes books featuring some of the most popular webcomics in the world (like XKCD and SMBC), and produces geeky novelties like Awesomesauce and LOLmagnetz. The non-sustainable profits from Breadpig are donated to worthy causes.

In 2010, Alexis helped launch hipmunk, the most agony-free way to search for a flight or hotel. He ran the marketing/pr/community for hipmunk's first year before moving to an advisory role and joining the fight against SOPA & PIPA.

These days, Alexis is an investor with over fifty tech startups in his portfolio, he sits on the board of reddit inc., is Y Combinator's Ambassador to the East, co-founder of the non-profit IHAS, and he’s writing a book called Without Your Permission, set to launch in 2013.

Along the way, Alexis spoke at TED, spent 3 months living in Yerevan, Armenia as a Kiva Fellow, and was named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30.

He proudly doodled the logos for all three of his startups, and he loves his cat Karma.


Think of the best party hosts you’ve ever seen. They’re not spending their time talking about how awesome they are—they don’t have time for that stuff. Instead, they’re spending their time introducing other awesome people to one another, and helping find some common ground between their guests. At reddit, we always thought of ourselves as something between party hosts and janitors. We wanted to keep the party going by making sure everyone had drinks and, you know, keeping the riff-raff out, making sure the toilets didn’t get clogged, whatever.

When we saw that the party was getting bigger, we started opening up extra rooms for our guests to kind of spill over into. We knew that if we put the basic tools in place and gave our community the power, they would start to take responsibility for their own party experience, creating all the sub-communities, these “subreddits,” within the site. We launched the first subreddit, /r/programming, because programmers were upset that their favorite links were no longer showing up on the front page. We slowly started rolling out subreddits that we ourselves managed and seeded for months before finally opening them up to users. Even then, it took quite some time; I made countless house ads promoting then-nascent communities like /r/gaming and even quite a few of our own submissions to prime the community for new users. But eventually our users were actually just as excited about making reddit successful as we were. And when you’ve got users who are just as invested in the success of a company as its founders, you know you’re throwing a really, really good party.

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