Posted by: Jesse Podell
Like everyone else who has a tech twitter feed, we started hearing about the Yo app yesterday, by the end of the day, after opening enough articles about the damn thing, we decided to download it. Turns out this whole phenomenon is a huge lesson for all the startups we meet and work with. You can have an app that barely works, "doesn't do sh-t", and have incredibly viral user growth and raise money at the same time. Your idea doesn't matter. Your deck doesn't matter. You've just got to get something out there and really quickly even if the CSS doesn't line up the way you like on your Terms of Service Page. If people love something about it, you'll be golden.
It wasn't the promise of a new and easier life fulfilled with "zero characters communication", or the burning desire to ping someone in a new way that led us to download the app - but the sheer curiosity that led us to download. Truth is, we're all really busy here, building things, paying bills, and ambitiously trying to find a some free time with our loved ones after 60 or so hours of trying to make clients happy a week. We know we have a problem staying in touch with cousins, college friends, moms, dads, etc, but weren't really looking for a solution for this problem. We have zero idea if this whole thing is going to work in the long term, but it's working very well for now. The founder's vision of success was very clear, and he has exceeded it. Have fun, get users, make noise, see if there's a business here.
When the first random Yo pushed to the screen of our iphone, we gotta admit, it felt pretty cool! We sent a few, and sadly didn't get any responses. Oh, there's a small problem, we had absolutely no idea how to go back and try to add contacts my linking a new social account like twitter the way it asked us in the beginning. Yeah, and pretty much half the app doesn't work, such as the Find Friends button, which does nothing at all- can you believe it! A button that does nothing! What's more, how on earth do I add a username? I have to go and actually LOOK through my social feeds for people who are putting status updates to tell us their username and add them in manually. Ghastly! Wait, he built the whole damn thing in EIGHT HOURS?
You've probably read about the founder already, and the first thing out of people's mouths is "did you hear he raised a Million Dollars?!" Yeah? If your startup was worth north of half a Billion, you probably kick your bestie a couple hundred thousand too. When people tell us their strategy for getting users is organic viral growth, we feel sad for them, because they're doomed- UNLESS they're actually this guy, or someone like him.
So laugh all you want. Hate all you want. Hack it all you want. Call it useless, but it is in our minds the personification of the two greatest startup lessons: 1) If you're not pissing people off, you're not doing anything right, and, 2) If you're happy with the way your app looks when you launch it, you waited too long.