- Readers may ask, what do these products have in common???
I asked myself the same question some time ago, in addition to the fact that this is the result of thousands of hours and part of my life, but there is a way, my vision and a certain pattern.
First of all, I spent almost 8 years of my life on all these products. Of course, each startup required a different role as it scaled, but either way it was a significant investment of time. In addition to these three startups, there have been many experiments, failures and other initiatives. For example, I was product director of the RuRu payment system [now part of VEON] and vice president of VoxImplant [European Twilio competitor].
- At Slinky, which I founded long before I joined Google, I was CEO, architect and later consultant when our company was acquired by Sohu [now part of Sogou] (2010–2013).
- While working on the Teleport app (photo editor), my main role was focused on marketing, strategy and later M&A (on the deal with potential buyers). As many already know, the startup team + core of the intellectual property became part of Snap Inc. [NASDAQ:SNAP] in 2018.
- At Stickeroid, I decided to take a step back and reprise my role from the first company, which was also very effective. As a result, we sold our solution/IP and dataset/ub to Naver Corp. [KRX:035420] in 2019.
If you look at 3 products, you can see some patterns:
- Initially all products were B2C focused.
- Slinky — Search engine for GIFS and animated graphics + GC Themes.
- Teleport — Neural photo editor powered by AI
- Stickeroid — Text to Sticker solution powered by AI
2. Each product has gone viral, spreading through social interactions. All methods work well. Distribution through Instagram or through forums or other sources. If people liked it, they chose how to distribute the product.
- Slinky has been very popular in Japan, South Korea and Eastern Europe. In the first three quarters, Slinky attracted ~3 million users.
- Teleport reached ~1.5 million users in just 7 days and it was an absolute record. Mostly in Europe, Ukraine and post-USSR countries
- Stickeroid reached around 5 million sessions 2 quarters after launch. Exponential growth with high retention
3. Three companies and three different technology stacks. Each product is based on the most technological innovation. Many solutions have become popular today, but at the time they were unique. Complex mathematics, artificial intelligence and an innovative approach to the problem
- Slinky’s search engine was able to recomposite/decompose gif files and determine what they contained. Define adult content. Automatically add tags and even compress large GIF files in the cloud
- The Teleport app used one of the fastest neural networks to segment objects, especially faces (hair, lips, skin colour). In addition to photos, we could also apply segmentation to real-time video.
- The stickeroid platform offered the ability to generate stickers on demand and turn text into a sticker. Our solution beat the big generative content trend by almost 3 years.
4. Each startup had growth potential in scaling through B2B integration. This approach ensured communication with large companies and potential buyers. Many large companies knew about us and had already tested our solutions before the first discussions with a view to acquiring us.
5. Each solution has become part of a large ecosystem and has evolved. Many companies die or their solution becomes useless. Fortunately, this did not happen and all of our startups’ innovations were useful. Millions of people are using what we created, and that is the greatest achievement of my life.