Steve Anderson, whom he met during his VC meet ups, got interested in his idea and agreed to invest $250,000 needed to start the company with the only condition, he wanted Systrom to bring in cofounder.
He contacted Mike Krieger, another Stanford graduate with a majored degree in symbolic system, and proposed to join Burbn as cofounder. Mike got interested in this offer. It was the first check in service that he actually liked, so he accepted the offer. Systrom was able to identify a gap in a market place; it was decided to create photo- only, mobile-based service. He says, ‘It was an opportunity to create a new type of service, a social network that wasn’t based on a computer but computer in your hands.
His creativity and ability to come up with not obvious decision were crucial for the company development. Once during his holidays in Mexico, his girlfriend told him she wanted her pictures to look as beautiful as pictures of their friend, who was a fan of photography and used different filters. It was a point where Kevin realized what Instagram was missing and spent the rest of the day working on this idea. Not long after first filter was added to program features and users loved. It helped to make even average mobile picture special.
On the 6th of October 2010 Instagram became available in apple app, over the night it was downloaded by 25,000 users. With a help of Adam D’Angelo, whom he knew from flat party in Stanford they managed to get on Amazon com servers. In a meter of month 1 million users were using Instagram on regular bases.
In April this year Mark Zuckenberg offered to purchase Instagram for $1 billion, with Systrom’s skake of 40% or $400 million. It is quite shocking as Instagram is a company with zero revenue and only 14 employees, however Facebook is highly interested in a mobile platform with 85 millions users. This is the first thing I’ seen that feels like it truly native to mobile, says Matt Cohler, the former VP of product management at Facebook.
It was decided that even after buying out, Kevin Systrom would run Instagram independently. The company is at the beginning stage of its growth. It’s currently working only with IOS, but Android and web will also be considered in future.
Failure and actions
As company activities are based on innovation the risk of is failure is quite high. There is a myth that successful startups based on single great idea Kevin however claims that there are only couple that entered and ended up doing exactly same thing. Idea is not something you can just wake up one day with, you have to take steps, find solutions and solve problems in order to create something valuable. In fact the idea of Instagram is based on another application created by Systrom, called Burbn. It was really simple and basic with only four different tabs, created as check in service, the innovative thing about it was like no other service Burbn gave people an option to attach their photos together with a location. It was discovered users are not checking in that much however they love to share their pictures.
Burbn didn’t become successful. It was too hard to explain to people outside their friend group. Kevin and his team even joked that it didn’t pass the Bar test, meaning the idea was not clear enough to be explained in a noisy bar.
It is important to present your product to customer as quickly as possible; it is a big mistake to wait for too long. The ‘right way to fail is to fail
early and often, in this way you don’t waste your recourses and you are able to identify if the direction in which you are working is right to fulfill people’s needs. Kevin believes that it’s totally normal to fail in the organization. Failure is required in order for right solution to be found. When Burbn was presented to people it turned out to be most Eye opening experience and he realized the idea has to be refined.
The company was continuously failing with Burbn, so based on this experience the idea was changed. The check in was demoted and photos were promoted, in a new program (Instagram) you start with a photo and then optionally you can add a location and it turn out to make a huge difference. During the process of development filters were added and it was a break through for Instagram, as they realized they want to make photos better for people. Kevin states, We were thinking how to encourage people to take more photos and we realized we want their photos to look better.
The main drive and motivation for Kevin Systrom is a strong belief in what he is doing. The company Instagram didn’t want to build just a fun application, what it is aiming for is an application that solves problems and making people’s life better. The idea of Instagram in long term is a program that helps you to explore the world, your way to get news and experience events you were not able to attend. The ability to tune in any place in the world and see what is going on. They want to become world-changing company. It is first truly International network, as you don’t need to speak the same language in order to communicate through visual media. The obsession with his idea is highly beneficial for the company. As entrepreneur he works all the time, sometimes he skips birthday parties and has luck of sleep in order to solve the problem that may appear. He is exited about what he is doing and always looking for solutions and ways how to give world something it was asking for during a long period of time.
The goal of this report was to research and analyze the entrepreneurial path of Kevin Systrom. And to find an answer what is a key to his success. Through the report I have learnt few important lessons that can be useful for my future career. The first of them is you can fail in order to find the right answer, it is completely normal to make mistakes, what is more important is to be able to find solutions and ways to improve. Usually the idea you will start with it’s not going to be exactly the same with your final idea.
Second thing that I would like to keep in mind after finishing this report is its importance to hire right people. With the example of Instagram we can see that 14 really talented people can run a company in such a successful way. As well it is critical to find people who share passion for what you are doing.