Photo: Flickr / LeWEB11
Kevin Systrom successfully sold Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion, but his background is in marketing, not engineering, as he explains on Quora..While working in the marketing department at a company called Nextstop (which would ultimately be acquired by Facebook as well), Systrom spent his evenings learning how to code.
“While I was [at Nextstop] working in marketing, I started doing more and more engineering at night on simple ideas that helped me learn how to program (I don’t have any formal CS degree or training). One of these ideas was combining elements of foursquare (check-ins) with elements of Mafia Wars (hence the name Burbn). I figured I could build a prototype of the idea in HTML5 and get it to some friends. Those friends ended up using the prototype without any branding elements or design at all. I spent weekends working on improving the prototype for my friends.
“At a party for the Hunch folks I ran into a bunch of people who would basically make starting Burbn a reality. At that party were two people from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. I showed the prototype, and we decided we’d meet up for coffee to talk about it. After the first meeting, I decided to take the dive and leave my job to go solo and see if Burbn could be a company. Within two weeks of leaving, I raised $500k from both Baseline and Andreessen Horowitz, and started work on finding a team.”
Fast forward to the present and Systrom is roughly $400 million richer with his 40% stake in Instagram’s sale to Facebook.
We’d be remiss not to mention Codecademy here — if you have a great idea but no idea how to make it come to life, Codecademy could be just the start you need to learn how to program. Click here to check it out >