How 4 popular startups really began

Shane Labs November 3, 2015 2

I learn best by example, which is why when I came across these 4 flowcharts showing how successful tech startups actually got started I had to share with you all. Many think that a lot of internet businesses are overnight successes, but from these scenarios that couldn’t be further from the truth. Take a look at how Pinterest, Airbnb, Angry Birds, and Instagram *really* began.

Source – All images created by and copyright Anna Vital of Funders and Founders.


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Take note:

  • His first apps flopped, he was scoffed at by investors
  • He personally wrote to the first 7k users
  • Started out with moms, and grew from there
  • 5 years to get to success



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Take note:

  • The name first came from renting out air mattresses!
  • They were stuck at $200/week for a long time, but kept on
  • They personally went door-to-door to take pictures for their rentals
  • 7 years to get to success


Angry Birds

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Take note:

  • Had 51 failures before their one success
  • 7 years to get to success



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Take note:

  • Okay, this one did practically happen overnight (2 months is super fast)
  • Don’t expect to go from learning to code to massive funding in a few weeks
  • They finally succeeded after throwing away features



Don’t expect your side project to succeed overnight, they very rarely do. Most take several years.

Don’t compare your story to others, everyone is different.

Do get your first customers through methods that don’t scale. This is hard work.

Do keep trying, even after many failures


  1. Brian Purkiss November 4, 2015 at 9:34 am - Reply

    I love using the Angry Birds example.

    People don’t know about those first 51 games.

    They don’t know about the 10 sketches a day.

    So many people want to be an “overnight success” like angry birds. I mean come on, angry birds is such a simple game, anyone can do it, right?

    But all those people don’t pay attention to all of the failures, not to mention all of the years spent learning game development before that. Not the sacrifices made when going nearly broke.

    Success takes hard work.

    Success takes failing over and over, learning, and not giving up.

    • Shane Labs November 4, 2015 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Exactly! Angry birds is such a simple game that who knew it took so long for them to find the perfect combination of elements before it took off. There are so many failures we never see, and it’s important to realize they’re part of the process!

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