The most successful startups never had it good when they actually started. In fact, for most of them, the product looked completely different, served a different need and market!
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We have compiled the inside stories of 10 most successful startups today. They all began with a simple idea and look where they are.
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This is a story of 3 guys and how they went from renting mattresses to a $10 billion company. In 2007, designers Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, couldn’t afford the rent on their San Francisco apartment.
There was a design conference coming to San Francisco and the city’s hotels were fully booked, so they came up with the idea of renting out three airbeds on their living-room floor and cooking their guests breakfast.
They set up a simple blog and got three renters (two guys, one girl) for $80 each.
After a small success and product market fit, they enlisted a former flatmate and a computer science graduate, Nathan Blecharczyk, to develop the website and join the venture.
This is a story of two guys who made an app in flat 8 weeks. Kevin Systrom, a Stanford graduate who worked on Google’s Gmail and corporate development, spent his weekends developing an app that allowed location-aware photo and note-sharing, dubbing it Burbn.
That’s how Kevin met Mike Krieger, an early Burbn user and Instagram’s co-founder. Later, Burbn was reduced to photos only and dubbed named Instagram.
Raised by doctor parents, Ben Silbermann assumed he would follow the same path. He attended Yale University starting in 1999 and soon realized that he didn’t want to be doctor. After a consulting gig in Washington DC, working for Google, and a failed app, he came up with the another idea.
In 2009, Ben and a college friend, Paul Sciarra, along with Evan Sharp, started working on a site on which people could show collections of things they were interested in, on an interactive pin-board format.
Ben personally wrote to the site’s first 7,000 users offering his personal phone number and even meeting with some of its users. Over Thanksgiving dinner, Ben’s girlfriend thought of a name for it: Pinterest.
#4 Angry Birds
Just how many times the founders of Angry Birds tried to build a successful one. Moral of the story is that even if you fail 51 times, you only need to succeed once!
In late 2002, Reid Hoffman recruited a team of old colleagues from SocialNet and PayPal to work on a new idea. By May 2003, Reid launched LinkedIn out of his living room, inviting 350 of his contacts to join his network and create their own profiles.
The business started with a slow growth at first—as few as 20 signups on some days—but, by the fall, it showed enough promise to attract an investment from Sequoia Capital.
After a conference in Paris, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were complaining about the many crappy things we all have to deal with in life, including finding a cab. The next thing you know, the two were already brainstorming, thinking about ways to find cars at the right place, at the right time.
Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy, three friends from college were testing out their entrepreneurial skills. During a casual chat Reggie said, “I wish these photos I am sending this girl would disappear.”
Soon after, Evan referred to as a ‘million dollar idea.’ They worked on the app and launched in the name of Picaboo. But later after a clash between with Reggie, Evan and Bobby asked him to leave and changed the name to Snapchat.
Jan Koum and Brian Acton, two friends and colleagues from Yahoo were frustrated with the idea of having so many advertisements on any page. In 2007, both left Yahoo and took a year to decompress. Both applied, and failed, to work at Facebook.
After a lot of ups and downs they launched WhatsApp in 2009, with a clear purpose that their service would definitely not carry any advertising and would maintain a relentless focus on delivering a gimmickless, reliable, friction-free user experience.
Twitter’s origins lie in a day long brainstorming session held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo.
Jack Dorsey, then an undergraduate student at New York University, introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group.
A 19-year-old lad and a second-year Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg launched an internal social networking site for Harvard students.
Soon after the site got popular among students, it expanded its reach to other universities. In 2004, the site moved its operations base to Palo Alto, California and received its first investment from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.