A handful of people have asked how Launchcaster came to exist, so I thought I would take a moment to share how it all started, evolved, and where it’s going.
It was the fall of 2022. We were working on Maindrop then and really struggled to find a good place to share updates and get early users. Most of the big web2 communities (HN, PH, Reddit) weren't that interested in web3 stuff. The web3 users we wanted were scattered across Discord and Telegram, where you had to post in "shill channels," and Twitter, where there was a ton of spam and scams. Trying to stand out and discover signal from noise was a nightmare.
I was starting to become more active on Farcaster, thanks to a nudge from @vm, and found a ton of value in sharing our updates with the community. One launch day, I had the random idea of a Show HN for Farcaster, a simple place to share and see new web3 projects. Without thinking much of it, I went to Show HN, saved the page, made a few edits, took a screenshot, and shared the concept on Farcaster. The comments were encouraging: I love this! Take my money, url? …, but I didn't think much of it. After a couple of months of myself and others starting their launch casts with "Launchcaster," we began to really want to see the product exist.
One week in October, we decided to build Launchcaster as a side project to solve our own problem. We scoped out the MVP (tag a launch, see list of launches and launch detail page), got feedback from Farcasters on the design vibe, and built it in a couple of days. I think I made the logo (the throne) in under five minutes. Getting feedback from Alex and Peter from Perl, searching the Farcaster Dev Chat, and a few repos (bot.js, farcaster.js, farcaster-example.ts) helped us move fast. To launch, we used Searchcaster to compile a list of our favorite twenty apps in the Farcaster community, manually @launch'd each one to overcome the cold start problem, and then used @launch to announce Launchcaster. We saw organic launches that same day and have seen them almost every day since!
Experimentation has been at the core of everything we've done with Launchcaster. The first launch was just a screenshot. We questioned if the bot was a better mechanic than starting a cast with the Launchcaster string. There are now over 1K @launch bot launches. The first newsletter was just an Airtable form. We've now sent out 30 weekly newsletters to over 7K subscribers. The latest big Launchcaster features, including launch NFTs, profiles, product pages, and app discovery, all started as screenshot essays or even simpler MVPs. The product was just a side project for the first four months before we decided to focus on it full-time.
So what's next? We go back to the problem — distributing and discovering onchain apps, their assets, people, and content around them sucks. Launchcaster's mission is to help builders share their products across all of web3 and help users discover magical and useful things they can do on blockchains. Building Launchcaster on the Farcaster protocol was just the start, and I can't think of a better place or community to have launched it.
This post was submitted to the FarCon essay contest.