Building an Online Billion Dollar Startup

 Building an Online Billion Dollar Startup


How do you go about building an online  billion dollar startup?  I believe that thought has passed though many minds since April 2012 when Facebook purchased Instagram for around $1 billion in cash and stock.


Instagram is a program that allows people to share their photos on various social networking platforms, including its own.   Instagram got off the ground in October 2010 with an initial investment of $500 000.  After only 3 months it had 1 million users and this increased to over 30 million when Facebook purchased it. Not bad, and that is just one example.


Steve Blank, on his website, offers the following advice for those wondering how it is done. For the complete article, click here.


Is It a Problem or a Need?

I’ve now come to believe that the value proposition in a business model (value proposition is the fancy name for your product or service) fits into either one of two categories:


  • It solves a problem and gets a job done for a consumer or a company (accounting software, elevators, air-conditioning, electricity, tablet computers, electric toothbrushes, airplanes, email software, etc. )


  • Or it fulfills a fundamental human social need (friendship, dating, sex, entertainment, art, communication, blogs, confession, networking, gambling, religion, etc.)


Moving Needs to Bits = $1 Billion

Friendship, dating, sex, art, entertainment, communication, confession, networking, gambling, religion – would our hearts still beat and would our lungs still breathe without them? Of course. But these are things that make us human. They are hard-wired into our psyche. We’ve been doing them for tens of thousands of years.


Ironically, the emergence of the digital world has made us more efficient yet has left us with less time for face-to-face interaction. Yet it’s these interactions that define our humanity.


Facebook takes our need for friendship and attempts to recreate that connection on-line.


Twitter allows us to share and communicate in real time.


Zynga allows us to mindlessly entertain ourselves on-line. allows us to find a spouse.


At the same time these social applications are moving on-line, digital platforms (tablets and smartphones) are becoming available to hundreds of millions. It’s not hard to imagine that in a decade, the majority of people on our planet will have 24/7 access to these applications. For better or worse social applications are the ones that will reach billions of users.


Yet they are all only less than 5-years old.


It cannot be that today we have optimally recreated and moved our all social interactions on-line.


It cannot be that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pandora, Zynga, LinkedIn are the pinnacle of social software.


Others will do better.


Others will discover the other unmet and unfilled social needs that can move on-line.


It could be you.


Marketing books always state: To make money, find a need and meet it with your product or service. In the case of building a billion dollar startup it appears to be: Find an innovative way to satisfy a basic need that all humans share.

To your success


Deon and Johan Reynders

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