When myself and my co-host interviewed Travis Kalanick on our podcast, he had recently co-founded a little snowball called UberCab. It was so early in Uber’s existence he didn’t even mention it.
I notice Uber falls into a category of companies I call little snowballs. There are some fundamental features these companies have in common. I thoguht it might be helpful to list a few little snowballs and then talk about how you can go about starting your own.
Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp commissioned the creation of a simple app that enabled users to hail a black car on demand. To validate they asked friends and colleagues to install the app. They hired a driver & watched what happened. After a few months of hustle the app hit 10 rides in one day.
Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia bought a few airbeds and put up a static site called “Air Bed and Breakfast”. They expanded the concept so that other people could offer airbeds in their homes and make money too. Then they expanded the idea to rooms, then to entire apartments. Their journey was a hustle from hell, but they made it happen.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page built a web search engine. It was one page with a search box and submit button. The backend was a simple database search returning ranked results based on the number of backlinks. It did a really good job at providing search results, and took off.
Stewart Butterfield worked with his Tiny Speck group to build a better team messaging app. Slack makes it really easy for people to signup and start chatting as a team. At it’s core Slack is a simple IM client.
AT&T, Dollar Shave Club, Buffer, Shazam, DropBox