Foursquare managed to achieve 1 million users in just a year.
How did they do it?
- They launched a simple app in 2009: you could share your geolocation with your friends and become the mayor of a place you visited more often than others.
In order to get first users on board, they used chalk and two rubber balls: 🙂
2.1. They visited the popular SXSW conference (without spending money on a booth like other startups).
2.2. Instead, they set up an actual game of foursquare: draw four squares on the ground using chalk and played with 2 rubber balls.
2.3. They played all day long, and there was always a waiting line. They were handing out t-shirts, buttons, and stickers. Anytime someone didn’t know what Foursquare was, they helped them find it on their phone, run and use it.
2.4. The game was a big fun and The New York Times wrote about Foursquare because of this game, CNN included Foursquare in a segment about the festival because of this game, and MSNBC had a feature article about Foursquare because of this game, Ashton Kuchar tweeted to his 4.6 million followers about Foursquare because of this game.
- Then Foursquare made it seamless to Tweet check-ins and accomplishments (I’m a major of this place). This flooded Twitter with check-ins, sparking Foursquare’s virality.
Then they applied the same viral trick to Facebook, flooding it with check-ins and accomplishments.
In just a year they had 1 million users. Yahoo!, Facebook and Microsoft were vying to acquire Foursquare for a rumored $100-150 million.