From Burbn to Instagram: the Pivot and How to Bet Big in Your Startup.

Kevin Systrom (Instagram)
Product 2009
Average rating: ****.
(4.20, 5 ratings)

Today in entrepreneurship you can’t walk ten feet without hearing the word ‘pivot’ thrown around. The story behind Instagram’s skyrocketing iPhone app begins almost a year ago with an HTML5 iPhone app called Burbn and involves what TechCrunch dubbed ‘the pivotal pivot’ to Instagram. In this talk, Kevin (CEO Burbn, inc.) will explore the history of Instagram; how it started, how it evolved, and the big decisions we made along the way to change course and bet big on photos and a native iPhone app. It’s a tale involving man twists and turns that in hindsight seem so obvious; but in the moment weren’t nearly as clear. How do you decide what to focus on in your startup? When do you decide to change course? This talk will explore these questions and more through the lens of Instagram’s history.

Photo of Kevin Systrom

Kevin Systrom


Kevin is CEO of Burbn, inc. – the company that makes the popular iPhone app Instagram. Originally from Boston, Kevin moved to the Bay Area to attend Stanford to study Finance and Decision Analysis. Very quickly, he got wrapped up in the world of entrepreneurship and landed a gig at Odeo as an intern working with Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey. After a two year stint of working at Google on the Gmail team and Corporate Development, Kevin worked at Nextstop which was purchased by Facebook. Kevin then decided to take the plunge and start Burbn, inc. with a focus on creating a new way of communicating and sharing in the real world. Their first product, Instagram was an instant hit – shooting to the top of the charts and gaining over 100,000 users in the first week.

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Picture of Michael Krupit
Michael Krupit
03/30/2011 7:56am PDT

Having heard lots of people talk about ‘pivoting,’ I went into the 20 min session with a little trepidation. Kevin did a nice job, balancing his story with extracting broader lessons for the audience, and was an engaging speaker.

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