Published On Feb 17, 2020
The story of Instagram is one of my favorite examples of lean startup principles in action...
Imagine you created a company, and in 3 years you sold it for 1 BILLION dollars.
That's the story of Instagram - and in this video we take a look at how ONE decision led Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger to create the company that we all know today as Instagram.
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🎶 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐜 𝐔𝐬𝐞𝐝:
This is one of those rare startup stories that can be quite motivational to some entrepreneurs out there. But most importantly, there is one huge lesson that can be taken away from the insane story of Instagram:
Kevin Systrom (one of the founders who created Instagram) was born on the 30th December 1983. As a child he worked at a vinyl record store, and was a big fan of the game Doom II (he was also an avid book reader, and still is to this day!). From Doom 2, Kevin found a love for computer programming.
During his time at Stanford, he briefly met with Mike Krieger where they spoke about his experience on the Mayfield Fellows Program. Whilst on the program Kevin had worked at a tech company called Odeo, a company that later went on to become Twitter. You can find a lot of this information scattered throughout Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger interviews.
A MEETING WITH MIKE KRIEGER.
After finishing college and working for a few years at several companies, Kevin has a meeting with Mike Krieger (who was also in the area) at a café. In that café they discuss the ideas for creating their first ever app. But it wasn’t Instagram…
Burbn was a check-in app, much like Foursquare. This was the original idea that Kevin and Mike came up with before creating Instagram.
Burbn received a large sum of capital from investors like Steve Anderson, and the venture capitalist company called Andreessen Horowitz. In total Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger had raised half a million dollars towards Burbn. But no matter how much investors throw at your company, it won’t change the fact that the market may still not like your product or service.
The sad truth was that Burbn was not getting much attraction. Mike and Kevin recognised this and realised they needed to change ideas.
The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss popularised the term ‘pivoting’ for startups, and this is exactly what Mike & Kevin did with Burbn. They realised that most of their customers were interested in the photo sharing aspects of their app, and had little to no interest in the check in features. So they stripped away all of that stuff, and created an app that was all about photo sharing – some may have called this their minimum viable product (another popularised startup term from Eric Reiss’ The Lean Startup).
Kevin Systrom also went on a vacation around this time with his (now) wife Nicole Systrom. On that vacation Nicole told him that she would likely not use the app because she didn’t think she could take good enough photos. Kevin saw that she was trying to compare her own photo-taking abilities to her friends who would use filters on their photos. Kevin identified a problem immediately, and created the first ever filter on Instagram the X Pro II.
You can still find the first ever photo on Instagram to this day on Kevin Systrom’s official Instagram account.
SELLING FOR ONE BILLION.
Instagram was sold to Facebook for 1 billion dollars. The company is now valued at around 100 billion, and it can be argued that Kevin and Mike’s decision to sell Instagram was a clever one at the end of the day, allowing their company to grow at the hands of Mark Zuckerberg.
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