The Problem With Digital Photos..: How The Founders Of Instagram Solved Problems And Became An Instant Success

Continuing the trend of posting my notes from Stanford’s ecorner series (previous one here on partnerships) here they are from the talk above called “From Stanford to Startup” by the founders of Instagram Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

  • Within 6 to 7 months they had 4 million users, and 6 pics were being uploaded per second.
  • A day on the job is worth year of experience / reading / practicing / standing on the sideline.
  • At one point a key decision they had to make was whether to use the “Follow” (twitter) or “Friendship” (Facebook) model.  They made the decision by trusting their gut and once they decided they stuck to it and only did it the one way.
  • A common mistake teams make is not making a decision and making it a preference in the app / tool / etc..  It’s what you don’t put in that is sometimes worth more than what you put in.
  • Most of what the founders learned and applied was from weekend work while they had regular jobs.  It’s amazing what you can figure out on your “spare” time.
  • Getting caught up in events vs working on your product is the downfall of many other startups.
  • Finding the problem to solve is the hardest. Solutions usually come easily – but finding the right problem to solve is key.  When starting Instagram they wrote down the biggest problems people had with taking and uploading digital photos.
  • Verify the problem. Get the product in front users. Don’t waste time building too much in. Many of Instagram’s new features get built and rolled out on an amazingly short and focused time period with the minimum viable product needed to test the assumption and see if users respond.
  • What’s version one to launch quick?
  • It costs only 60K to build the first version of Instagram.  They raised 500K and were now sitting there with left over cash and less equity wondering why they raised so much to begin with.  More importantly they realized just how much you could accomplish for a small amount.
  • When meeting with investors, having a prototype is better than a presentation.
  • Cross-pollination is key.  They described Instagram as a cross between Hipstamatic and Twitter.
  • In order to get to a large number of users right after launch they made sure they had a working prototype and linked to key influencers (designers on Twitter in this case).  Also, if you make useful and nice stuff people will come and tell others.
  • An angle that worked well for them with media was that they were reaching out directly to the press, so it was a chance to talk with the founders and not some PR firm on behalf of the company.
  • Work hard vs long. Focus on most important.
A great talk with some interesting specific details of how they built Instagram into a success.  Now to go out and find a good problem to solve.
Matt Kane
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One thought on “The Problem With Digital Photos..: How The Founders Of Instagram Solved Problems And Became An Instant Success

  1. Pingback: How Instagram Built Something that Facebook Wanted to Buy | Matt W

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