In 2009, Kevin Systrom was working full time at a travel startup but was learning to code at night. Smartphones had only recently become “smart” after acquiring a camera and location capabilities. So, Kevin developed Burbn, an experimental app that lets friends share their location with the possibility of adding a picture.
Soon after, an investor expressed interest to put in $50k if Kevin found a co-founder. So, Kevin decided to bring in Mike Krieger, a college friend and engineer. Two weeks later, the initial $50k became $500k as another investor showed interest!
The only problem?
Burbn had a staggering 100 users… and wasn’t gaining any new ones. Also, it turns out money can’t buy love 🥀, as users were not loving the location-sharing aspect 💁. They did, however, enjoy the photo-sharing feature, but there were already so many photo sharing apps out there. Kevin was stuck… and nearing burnout.
During a casual conversation, Kevin’s wife said that she wouldn’t post much on Burbn, because she thinks her pictures aren’t good. At that decisive moment, Kevin had a great idea: what if the app had filters to make anyone’s pictures look beautiful? 🤔 Quickly, Kevin and Mike decided to pivot to a photo-sharing app with filters: Burbn became Instagram.
In 2010, Kevin and Mike launched Instagram on the App Store, accumulating over 25,000 downloads in one day! The app’s simplicity and innovative filters made it stand out from other photo-sharing apps. Today, over 800 million people use Instagram worldwide.
Kevin Systrom on Instagram.
THE STARS WILL NEVER BE ALIGNED
When Kevin Systrom started out, the app was experimental and far from perfect. If you’d like to drive your car, would you wait until all traffic lights are green? That’s what I thought. Don’t wait until all the lights are green before you start your journey. The stars will never be aligned. Yes, you should give a fair time to thinking and planning, but then you’ve got to jump, since many answers will come as you move forward.
- Facts as told by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger for How I Built This with Guy Raz.
- Picture source: Kevin Systrom on Instagram.
© Story by Tarek Issa.