10 years ago today, I had the idea for an app I thought was interesting. I called it Bump, and sent this email to Andy Huibers.
Here’s a thread with some memories and lessons learned in the last 10 years.
@jakemintz and I were in b-school, so we entered Bump into the business plan competition. Despite not having a real business plan, we placed 1st.
(Also the last time I wore a suit for work)
We then moved out to the Bay Area for @ycombinator. With a team of 5 and $16k, we got to 2M users.
Lesson: You can achieve a lot with just a few people and a little money.
During YC, Apple decided to put us in an international TV commmercial! Our servers melted, but @polvi and team came over and saved our butts.
Lesson 1: You have to be good, and lucky.
Lesson 2: The YC network is 💯
At Bump that year, we’d sent an email to the entire company to dress up like a coworker for Halloween.
Then we sent a 2nd email to all except Andy saying to dress up like him: socks, sandals, tech co t-shirt, and ziplock bag wallet.
Lesson: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Once, when I was pushing too hard, I passed out at the office and split my forehead.
I woke up to one of our employees (who’d we’d hired away from a job as an ambulance EMT) taking my pulse. He’s now a senior tech lead of Google Photos for Android 🙌
The most transformational day in my career came soon after: Jake and I decided to call the top 100 users of Bump on the phone to see why they used it.
Turns out they were sharing photos...
Lesson: As @paulg told us, “Talk to your users. They’ll tell you what they want.”
Soon after, we showed @paulg the first version of Flock (semi-automated photo sharing amongst co-located friends).
Lesson: Sometimes it takes a while to understand what problem you really ought to solve.
We didn’t have time to make a professional marketing video before the launch of Flock. So we rented a nice camera and took the team out to make a film on our own.
Lesson: Being scrappy can be great for team bonding.
But alas, it turns out Flock didn’t pass @cdixon’s “Come for the tool, stay for the network” test, and it didn’t grow.
Lesson: You need a reason for your first few users to want to use your product, and a reason they’ll tell their friends.
So we redesigned Flock to make it a photo gallery app first, and sharing app second. We called the new version Photoroll.
It was never released, but many of the ideas would later come back in the form of Google Photos.
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