Start-Up Story: Kevin Systrom of Instagram


Founded in 2010, Instagram already had 7 millions register users in 9 months thanks to co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom. With a focus of sharing the present, the start-up is on its way to becoming a social network of significance — transforming photography into a form of communication. From Google to Odeo to Twitter to even Facebook, Kevin had quite a journey before starting up Instagram with Mike Krieger. Mashable asked Kevin some questions so keep reading to hear about what inspired him and what kind of advice he has to offer future entrepreneurs.

What inspires you?
People who spend their days creating — whether that be in technology or otherwise. I’m always in awe of people who are artists in their fields — people who understand that simply by taking ideas and translating them into reality, they’ve created value in the world.

What is your vision of success?
I think we’re already there in many ways. So many people work hard every day to come in, enjoy and be passionate about the work they do. It was a humble vision back when we started — simply to work with a talented group of people who share the same passion for mobile photography that Mike and I do. Now, it’s clear we’ve been presented with an opportunity to do something very big and improve the way the world communicates and shares in the real world. We work tirelessly to create the tools to achieve this goal.

What about your startup idea was game-changing?
I think we discovered a way to turn ordinary, everyday scenes into magical moments captured in digital form. By doing so, we were able to translate photography from being a form of self expression into a form of communication. I believe the latter innovation is the real game-changer for us.

What was the pivotal point in your early startup days?
The most pivotal moment for us was when we decided to stop working on Burbn (the mobile HTML5 checkin app) and start work on what would become Instagram. It was a tough decision, but honestly I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.

What was the biggest challenge you faced with your startup?
There are too many to name — starting a startup was a challenge all by itself. Leaving a great job with great people to start a company was the biggest challenge. I like to say that the one thing that all people who succeed in changing the world have in common is that they at least tried.

What are the biggest influences on your business model?
I’ve always been interested social startups. From the early days of learning from Jack [Dorsey] and Ev [Williams] at Odeo, I always knew I wanted to create a business around social sharing and communication, but it wasn’t until we started working on Instagram that I realized how much of an impact all those people had.

How does Instagram utilize social media?
We’ve got a large presence on Twitter and Facebook and we find each to be excellent tools to communicate with our fans. We’ve got such an amazing community of folks on Instagram, and I feel lucky to be able to have such an open communication channel with everyone through those platforms.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
If you’ve got an idea, start today. There’s no better time than now to get going. That doesn’t mean quit your job and jump into your idea 100% from day one, but there’s always small progress that can be made to start the movement. Instagram only launched nine months ago, but it’s taken over three years to get from the idea of starting something to today. It’s a long road, but well worth it.

(via Mashable)