Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger – How to Build a Great Product – Invest Like the Best, EP. 148


Kevin: We had a great run. We created something that a lot of people love in the world. Over 1 billion people use it every month. We had over 1,000 team members. To be 33 and 35 years old and pressing the reset button is this awesome, but harrowing adventure of becoming a beginner again. [3:30]

Kevin: We only spent $65,000 to launch Instagram. [11:00]

Kevin: Now we are in a place where —for zero marginal costs—you too can have these things [open-source software] at your fingertips. Then it becomes not about access to super tools, but about the knowledge of how to use these super tools. [12:00]

Mike: We had a phrase that we used religiously at Instagram: Do the simple things first. [12:26]

Mike: Don’t get so enamored by building something super scalable. Just have a deep understanding of the problem you are solving. [14:16]

Kevin: Every major change [to the product] that came with a ton of pain was either (A) the best decision we ever made or (B) the worst decision we ever made. [37:31]

Kevin: Time spent per user is how we measured it [the growth of the product]. So how many minutes per day [each user used Instagram]. [39:28]

Kevin: The person that starts off searching for a great startup idea never finds one. [It is better if] The person starts off with, “Hey, I have this itch. I want to scratch it. I think other people have this problem too. I am going to create something really awesome that solves this thing for me.” [47:06]

Mike: I don’t think enough teams think about the opportunity cost of being super pie-in-the-sky. Obviously it is important to have R&D teams in some companies developing technology. Folks often lose sight of problems that could be solved today. [51:11]

Kevin: One lesson we learned from our time at Facebook is do not pat yourself on the back ever. We got hit in the face so hard, multiple times, launching products that didn’t work. [1:01:10]

Kevin: People will forget your failures. They will remember your successes. [1:01:30]

Kevin: I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. One thing I took away from it was you should always have a list [a someday/maybe list] of things that you think are really interesting but you don’t have the time to do right now. [1:20:57]

Kevin: I think people who leave their companies get a little dull. They get a little slow. They are not as sharp because they are not managing something every day. [He learned how to fly to avoid this.] [1:21:30]

Mike: Never self select out of things because you feel you don’t know them yet.[1:26:39]

Mike: Have the open-mindedness to say, “I don’t know that yet. Not knowing that is standing in the way of solving some problem. Then take that learning mentality [and solve it]. That was us over and over again.” [1:27:30]

Kevin: Stay super curious. Stay a learner. I think people —if they are lucky—will get through college and they stop learning. And then they stop trying. [1:29:05]

Full podcast here: Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger – How to Build a Great Product – [Invest Like the Best, EP. 148

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