The news today is buzzing with the announcement of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for
$1billion. Instagram co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, literally
had a billion dollar idea. The idea for Instagram was also Systrom and Krieger’s Plan
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger raised
$500k of seed funding from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working
on Plan A in early 2010. The original idea for Instagram was called Burbn, a check-in
app that competed with Foursquare and allowed you to check-in to locations and add
photos and videos to your check-in. Burbn’s focus was suppose to be a mash-up of Foursquare
and Mafia Wars (where the name Burbn came from.) Burbn (Plan A) did not really take
off and after a lot of minimum
viable products, several months later Systrom
and Krieger pivoted, and released Instagram (Plan B) as we know and love. The
rest, they say, is history.
Instagram’s story of pivoting is a great reinforcement for anyone starting a new business
today. I’m sure that Systrom and Krieger loved their first idea (Burbn), but they
did not fall in love with it and keep sticking to it. This happens too often when
a founder keeps hacking away at a bad idea over and over without pivioting. The truth
is that most great companies today are the result of a Plan B, or even Plan C, or
Plan D. So when starting your business, don’t fall in love with your idea, accept
that fact that you will most likely have to pivot and get to Plan B. It just may be
a billion dollar idea…
Stephen Forte sits on the board of several start-ups including Triton Works. Stephen is also the Microsoft Regional Director for the NY Metro region and speaks regularly at industry conferences around the world. He has written several books on application and database development including Programming SQL Server 2008 (MS Press).
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