Success Stories

Kevin Systrom

False Starts to a Billion

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Do you remember an app called Burbn? Probably not. Did you know the Burbn was the predecessor, the prototype if you will, of Instagram?  


Kevin Systromidea was to use this location-based app to check-in at places, make plans for future check-ins, hang out with friends, earn rewards, and post pictures of meetups. The app was, shall we say, not terribly successful, evident by your lack of familiarity with Burbn. The app was drowning in features and users found it too complicated. But Systrom kept tweaking the app, partnering with Mike Krieger to use data analytics to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the features.  


It turns out users were rather uninterested in Burbn’s checkin features. They were however enamored with the photo-sharing capabilities. This became the focal point for the rest of the product development journeyThey listened to the data and scrapped every unnecessary feature, breaking it down to quick photo sharing, liking, and commenting. In 2010, they released Instagram, an app in which you can post a photo in three clicks. Systroms experiences epitomize how one can learn from failure.  


In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, giving birth to the now hackneyed joke, Facebook paid a billion dollars for Instagram, didn’t they know you could download it for free?  

Resources:; Image Credit: Kmeron (Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder & CEO, Instagram-2742,, some rights reserved); 

It’s all about going through false starts. Burbn was a false start. The best companies in world have all had predecessors. YouTube was dating site. You always have to evolve into something else.”