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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Instagram: 18 Months + Some Luck = $1 Billion


I came upon an interesting Inc.com article about Instagram and it's rapid rise to success. The start-up, was just over a year and a half old when it sold for $1 Billion to Facebook and here are some interesting highlights:

- Instagram had zero revenue when it was sold
- The app took only eight weeks to build
- After two and a half months, the app was downloaded one million times
- There were 12 employees at the time of sale
- Founder, Kevin Systrom, studied and worked in Silicon Valley (Stanford, Twitter, Google)
- Kevin randomly met his first investors at another start-up company's cocktail party, got $500k and quit his job to focus on Instagram

Here's the part that I like the best. The first interation of Instagram was called "Burbn" and it was similar to what Foursquare is today. There were a ton of features and if there's one thing you should keep in mind in product development it's that if you can't explain what your thing does in one line, it's probably too complicated.

So Kevin and co-founder Mike Krieger, decided to start from scratch to create an entirely new app. They only kept the features that people liked the most: photo, liking and commenting capabilities. They also only kept 11 of the initial 30+ filters, making it even easier to use.

I don't know how they were able to pull this off without getting into deep financial do-do but they did. Also, like many start-ups or small companies, there was no research done and decisions were made based on feedback from beta users.

Like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram is so easy to use that at first glance, it might even seem stupid. Then again, the popularity of the iPhone is based on of ease of use. I've heard so many iPhone users say that they tried to use an Android phone but didn't like it because it was too complicated o_O.

So if you're thinking of or are already developing an app, make sure that you can explain what it does in one line.

Read the full article at Inc.com

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