FourSquare: From 0 to 1M Users in a Year (Case Study)

Foursquare managed to achieve 1 million users in just a year.

How did they do it?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Then they applied the same viral trick to Facebook, flooding it with check-ins and accomplishments.

  3. In just a year they had 1 million users. Yahoo!, Facebook and Microsoft were vying to acquire Foursquare for a rumored $100-150 million.



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