Reddit is an entertainment, social networking and news sharing site started in 2005. Registered community members share news, links and articles across hundred’s of communities like science, technology, business etc.
Founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, Reddit quickly became one of the top website for sharing and finding articles. Users could vote the articles up and down and share with their own network.
However when it was started it had no users and no content. Without users, there would be no content posted on site. Without content, users would not come, let alone sign up and engage on site.
Reddit founder’s got into a catch 22 situation. They believed in their idea of a social site for sharing and finding great content. But they had to do something to drive traction.
That’s when they came with a great idea. They started posting various type of content on the site themselves, but in the name of fake users. They would find good articles over internet and get it posted on Reddit through large number of dummy accounts on the site. Everything was automated via software in order to scale the growth of content.
This resulted in quality content on the website but the users were all fake. But no body knew about this. People felt that website is old and with real users and content.
As a result, people started coming on the website and posting content. As more and more people come on the website, the original content which they posted themselves became quickly obsolete. Soon they stopped their automated submission of content and creation of fake users.
With in months, Reddit became one of the top website and eventually acquired by Condé Nast Publications with in a year.
Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian essentially faked everything till they were able to get some success. Right from the beginning they were clear about their vision but had to take this route to sustain themselves.
This article tells about their story.
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going
Startups will always have disadvantages with respect to resources, budget, network etc. How can then one compete with the world and emerge successful?
Simple – Fake it till you Make it!
Here are some of tips that will help you achieve the same.
Build confidence - You must believe in your idea, vision and what you want to achieve. Belief and faith gives power to withstand any adversity. More confidence you have on yourself, more will be your energy and impact. You will be able to solve problems more creatively (like how Reddit did). Even at times, you may be down with failure, but focusing on goals will help you bring your confidence. It’s not over until its over. World should only see your positive side.
Present as you want it to be - People believe what they see. If you want to build a great company, start with a good website design, professional content for your product, team and powerful contact details.
When I started my first company in college, I did not have a formal office, but I gave addresses of my friends in US and Europe. That way our client’s used to think that we had global presence.
Similarly when I was working with iXiGO, we had a one room office with space for only 6-7 people. We used to do all our interview’s and business meetings in a near by Cafe Coffee Day outlet. As a result, first time visitors were saved from embarrassment that they were doing business with a very small company.
Build a consistent brand every where, from social media to email and offline communication (letterheads, envelopes etc.) This will give you much needed confidence and right attitude to do business.
People should know that you are here for some serious business.
Work like a big company - You are what you think you are. No matter how small in size you are, if sky is the limit for you than start thinking big.
Use right tools, processes from day one. Obviously you don’t have to over do everything. Do not start spending on lavish office furniture, machines. But a basic infrastructure will help you think and work professionally.
Start taking your business seriously. If you are building a software product than spending some time and energy in building software process in the beginning will help you later in life when you grow.
Every time I start my ventures, I make sure that I follow a professional approach in dealing with various aspects of business. e.g. All email communications are done through official mail addresses, software is version controlled, deployment is done on production servers after doing proper staging testing. Similarly I use project management tool (e.g. Trello) to plan all project deliverable’s.
It may look very trivial initially but following these helps in taking business serious and accordingly results are much better.
It is as simple as that – Fake till you make it.