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John Au-Yeung
John Au-Yeung

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What we can learn from several startup success stories?

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There's are a few software as service startups that are successful and many that failed without gaining any traction. What do they have in common and how can you follow their way to success? We look at a few startups' stories and what we can learn from them.


In the beginning, Reddit was very simple. People can create accounts to create posts and then people can vote on them. According to the Reddit confounder, Steve Huffman, Reddit's content was built up using fake user accounts he and Alexis Ohanian, Reddit's other co-founder, to populate the site in the early days.

There were tons of fake accounts, but the content was of high quality. This is what they did to get readers. This give people a reason to go to the site and read their stuff.

It also sets the tone for the site.


Twitter was originally proposed as an SMS messaging platform. Then they achieved success as it was used by people attending the South by Southwest conference which made Twitter's popularity skyrocket. It built it a large presence there which continued with them until the present date.

Twitter set up live tracking of all the tweets going through South by Southwest with 2 screens in a prominent hallway, and they add the #sxsw tag to let followers follow the updates by checking that tag.


Quora's initial traction was gained much as Reddit did. The founders created questions and answer them themselves. It was invitation-only at the beginning, so they invite their friends, and those friends invited more friends to join. Then the momentum continues. The founders' friends' friends' were pretty successful people. Even people like Mark Zuckerberg joined the site and answered a few questions in the early days.

Other sites like TechCrunch then get their story ideas from Quora and that also contributes to their continuing traction.

Lesson Learned

The most important things that all 3 stories have in common are content and promotion. Any startup will need content on their site for them to be successful. If there're no users, then create some fake ones and get others to join.

For instance, if you're making your own marketplace app like eBay or CraigsList, then you got to get some people to build up content and share them. Otherwise, your site is a ghost town and it wouldn't be appealing to most people.

Having content is a must for any site. It's the whole reason that people visit. It's also useful for getting some good testimonials from people who will promote it for you and get you some feedback.

As we can see, coding and engineering definitely weren't the focus in any of these success stories. Content and promotion are critical to success.

If you want to have a chance of succeeding, then the first step is to never leave your site as a ghost town. Make sure the content is what people want. This way, people including you have content to share and then visitors will come your way.

Even if your site is an app, you still need content in other places like social media and your blog to refer traffic to your site.

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