Some lessons from the young founders of Instagram



Instagram is a free photo sharing iPhone application. It has grown very quickly in 2010 to more than 10 million users.
In a presentation at Stanford, Instagram cofounders go through several myth according to them  people  believe in before creating their startup for real. Here is a selection:

  1. How to start a company is not explained in a written manual, nor written in a blog :) You have to deal with uncertainty and make snap decisions. This leads you to develop better guts.
  2. They insist on the need to be drawn in and passionate. The fact that you don't want a boss is not a good reason to become entrepreneur.
  3. Don't think about scaling at start.
  4. The hard thing is to find the problem to solve, not to find solutions to problems. They advise to list the major problems you want to solve, then verify this are the problems people are having by putting the product early in front of them. Even if the problem seems simple, simple problems are hard to solve at scale.
  5. Corollary,  don't start a stealth startup. You need to put the product in front of people and explain it. The ideal is to build a minimum viable product, as  advocated in  Ries' book: "the lean startup". You have to find the cheapest way to validate your hypothesis. Failing early and often is good. 
  6. How to deal with competition? They advise to focus on making the product you love and not over- thinking about competition.
  7. Check that co-founders have the same time horizon (cashing out after 6 month vs staying for the long run).

For more, you can listen to the podcast on itune university.
From Stanford to Startup - Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger (Instagram)

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