In 2013, Mikael Cho was fighting for the survival of his company, Crew, with just a few months of cash left. To avoid going broke, any effective solution would have to be quick and insanely cheap. That’s right, the company needed a miracle.
To try and save Crew, Cho and the team changed their business plan and were working on a new website. For their new homepage, the team needed a picture. A basic task that proved difficult! Every available option was either too expensive or too boring. So, the team hired a photographer and took a few pictures at a coffee shop. They picked one picture for the website and decided to give the others away for free. “Maybe there’s someone out there with the same problem”, they reasoned. Three hours and a $19 Tumblr theme later, they launched Unsplash, a website featuring 10 of their best remaining photos. Cho decided to share Unsplash with the HackerNews community of designers and entrepreneurs, then went on with his day.
A few hours later, Unsplash hit the top charts on HackerNews and received over 50,000 visitors! The long awaited miracle actually happened. The spontaneous project clearly addressed the hidden need of so many. For Crew, things have never been the same since.
Today, Crew is a thriving business after leveraging the huge visibility generated by Unsplash. With 300,000 free photos, Unsplash is now world-famous and is used by millions of creators, including companies like Apple.
Photo by Cam Adams on Unsplash.
PUT LUCK ON YOUR SIDE
Was Mikael Cho just lucky? Yes and no. You can put luck on your side by doing the right thing. What does that mean? Know your market, address its pain points, analyze its feedback, and iterate. Oh, and please (PLEASE!) keep it simple. If you feel the need to (re)explain what you do, then think twice about your solution or communication.
© Story by Tarek Issa.