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🏆 Evan Spiegel – The Man Who Snapped It All

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Evan Spiegel is the co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc., named for its flagship product, the photo- and video-sharing app Snapchat.

Since its conception in 2011, Snapchat has grown from a humble student project into a multibillion-dollar publicly traded company. As proof that ingenious ideas can pop up anywhere, Evan Spiegel initially imagined his app after drinking six beers.

This tech geek is loved by everyone for bringing up the most incredibly used photo sharing app. The smart and savvy tech entrepreneur rebelled against the archived timelines of the other social media platforms to allow users to communicate at the moment through temporary pictures, video and text. Evan Spiegel is someone the young generation looks up highly to for inspiration.

In 2019, Snapchat has reported +300 million monthly active users. Approximately 3 billion snaps are created every day. It’s estimated that it would take you more than 950 years to watch all snaps made in a day!

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Behind The Scene
There are very few people in the world who get to build a business. I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.Evan Spiegel
Golden Years

Evan Spiegel was born on June 4, 1990, in Los Angeles, California. His parents Melissa Ann Thomas and John W. Spiegel are both lawyers. His family was a very affluent one and as a teenager he received a $250 weekly allowance. His parents eventually divorced.

As a teenager he asked his father to buy him a new BMW and on his refusal he moved in with his mother out of protest. She leased him the $75,000 car. His privileged life as a youngster conditioned him to never take a “no” for an answer.

He attended the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica. He also took design classes at the Otis College of Art and Design while still in high school and attended classes at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

As a student he used to conduct experiments with Photoshop and had an unpaid internship in sales at Red Bull. After completing high school he joined the prestigious Stanford University in a product design program and was accepted into the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

That’s when he met fellow student Bobby Murphy who hired Evan for the job of designing an online social network, inspired by the Google Circles. This venture however was a failure.

Designed To Build

Evan proceeded to develop what would become their first project with Bobby: Future Freshman, an online software aimed to help in the management of college admissions by counselors, parents and high school students.

The project started well but could not maintain a steady growth and ended soon after. At around this time Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy met another student Reggie Brown. The collaboration between the three would prove to be a productive one.

“We would experiment and fail. We must have attempted nearly 34 projects.” Evan Spiegel Click To Tweet

Shake A Leg

The idea for creating a disappearing pictures app was conceived by Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel decided to start a prototype based on this idea as a project for one of his classes.

Soon Bobby Murphy became involved as well and the three young men began developing the prototype.

The trio bonded over beers and a shared love of design, technology and mathematics. They went on to develop an app – Picaboo – that allowed users to send a photo to a recipient that would delete itself after just 10 seconds (a concept most of the world is now very familiar with).

Evan Spiegel decided to leave Stanford in 2012 to focus on Picaboo, this move was an incredibly risky one, especially as he was only just a few credits short of graduating.

Despite being derived from the exact same idea as Snapchat, this initial app failed to entice and gain traction.

The Turning Point

The new application was launched in September 2011. Snapchat soon evolved into an image messaging and multimedia mobile application, and early on the team focused on usability and technical aspects.

“There is a real value in sharing moments that don’t live forever.” Evan Spiegel Click To Tweet

Sales were modest that fall of 2011, but something clicked into place by winter, with the app recording 20,000 users in January 2012, before ramping up to 100,000 in April.

In May 2012, 25 images were being sent per second on Snapchat and by November, the users had shared over one billion photos on the Snapchat iOS app, with 20 million photos being shared per day.

In 2013, Evan Spiegel with Bobby Murphy forced Reggie Brown out of the company without giving any equity, so he filed a lawsuit against them. The issue was settled when the two paid Brown $157.5 million to stand away from Snapchat.

Walking On The Moon

Newer elements like “My Story” feature and the ability to communicate via video chat were added, making the app extremely popular worldwide.

Snapchat took the world by storm. As its user base swelled, Evan Spiegel became a prominent member of the media and tech world. He even featured on the cover of Vogue Italy in October 2015 as the most fashion conscious CEO. He also got himself a Ferrari in June 2015 after Snapchat completed a significant funding round.

“When we first started working on Snapchat in 2011, it was just a toy. In many ways it still is.” Evan Spiegel Click To Tweet

The company grew at a phenomenal rate over the years and in 2016, Snapchat hit 10 billion daily video views. By April 2016 it was the top downloaded app in 28 different countries.

The sky seemed to be the limit for Snapchat in the months before going public. Rebranded as Snap Inc. in September 2016, the company unveiled its camera-equipped Spectacles two months later, and disclosed a revenue of more than $400 million for the year.

As of March 2017, the app is used by some of the biggest names on the planet, and with the help of a Kardashian/Jenner or two the number of people using the app has reached over 200 million.

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Though Snapchat eventually moved to offices on the Venice boardwalk, Evan Spiegel lived at his dad’s house for years, in part because “the rent is cheap.”

The Big Short
In times of despair, you may believe the cynic who tells you that one person cannot make difference – and there are times it may be hard to see your own impact. I beg you to remember that it is not possible at this time or any time to know the end results of our efforts.Evan Spiegel

In the fall of 2013, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion.

Most valuations pegged the company at a significantly lower worth at the time, and despite standing to gain some $750 million apiece from the deal, its co-founders rejected the offer, sparking a cold war between the companies that has continued to this day, with Facebook releasing multiple Snapchat clones and making similar features for its own apps.

“I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.“ – Evan Spiegel Click To Tweet

During the first months of Snapchat’s life, he often struggled with knowing which proposals and requests to accept and which ones to decline. But he learned that it’s okay to say no to money.

He thinks a little rule of thumb there is to say no to 99% of inbound suggestions and to really focus on delivering value for customers.

Four Life Lessons For Geeks
Dare to be unique

Do not be like everyone else.

As an entrepreneur, you need to believe in yourself and make things happen with passion and dedication!

Follow your heart

If you have an idea, go follow it!

Listen to their heart and follow that instead of relying on someone else’s advice. Put your soul and heart into it to make it happen and see the stars following your path!

Degrees are nothing

A degree doesn’t matter.

Evan unique Spiegel explained he too had participated in his class’ graduation ceremony, despite not receiving his degree. He even wore the cap and gown and walked onto the stage.

Learn from your mistakes

Do not be afraid of making mistakes.

The inception of Snapchat took place with a mistake. Snapchat was also thought up in a college dorm room. The idea came after a conversation with his frat brothers about sexting.

The Snap Cookbook
The feed was probably the biggest innovation in social media of late. But the interesting thing about the feed is that the more content you consume, the farther in time you goEvan Spiegel

There are many growth hacks noticed in Snapchat’s strategy that will work for your company if you adapt them to the right context:

  • Speakit easy
  • Shoot millennials
  • Pretty funny
  • Pimp my snaps
  • Powered by ads
Speakit Easy

It is amazing how powerful Word Of Mouth can be if you have a great app.

Back in 2011, after a couple of months since the launch of Snapchat the app had only 100 users, but the funny story is that a cousin of one of the co-founders shared it with his schoolmates and this way the app became a sensation for teenagers all over the world.

Many people downloaded the app out of the curiosity and they were thrilled that goofy photos sent in a wacky moment were gone forever after the message was opened by the receiver.

“I’d like to create a space for people who have a lot of talent but not a lot of reach.” Evan Spiegel Click To Tweet

Shoot Millennials

Snapchat has its targeted market and Millennials know how to live the moment and to enjoy the entire experience offered by the app.

If you think about Millennials immediately your mind fly to the bright yellow background which defines Snapchat. Their love for this app is so impressive that they started to invest in Snap stocks as you can read in an article published by Reuters along with many testimonials. Their average age is around 26 years old. This is really the portrait of true loyal users.

“Young millennials like Snapchat and Instagram images that flash by quickly as they crave instant gratification.” Click To Tweet

Pretty Funny

Because most of Snapchat users are young people it was mandatory for the app owners to think about a strategy that would bring Emojis to Snapchat for the joy of their customers.

This is the reason why Snapchat spent $100 million last year for buying Bitstrips, an Emoji app to adapt the bitmojis to suit the Snapchat style.

“Snap’s big competitors have largely failed to field a viable Bitmoji competitor.“ Techcrunch Click To Tweet

Another great amount, $150 million was invested in a Ukrainian startup Looksery, for the facial recognition technology which is the base of so appreciated Snapchat Lenses.

Pimp My Snaps

For Snapchat everything is different.

From the core function of the app to the way users connect with their contacts, everything reveals a personal and human aspect. Maybe these characteristics transformed Snapchat into a go to app for customers who want to impress their friends and brands that are looking to bring their products in front of their clients.

The ephemerality of snaps and the opportunity offered for its users to share their stories represent the key factors that explain the fast growth of this app.

“People are going to copy your product if you build great stuff. Just because Yahoo has a search box doesn't make it Google.“ Evan Spiegel Click To Tweet

Powered By Ads

Observing the huge potential represented by the marketing section of the app, the team behind Snapchat managed to create an incredible platform that not only help brands to promote their products but they also find new ways to transform ads into a playful experience.

A benefit of Snapchat marketing framework is that you can use Snapchat Sponsored GeoFilters for the most personal form of Mobile Ads: Location – Based Advertising

“If you have 1,000 followers on Snapchat, 900 of them will watch your story.” – Gary Vaynerchuk Click To Tweet

Four Ways Brands Can Advertise on Snapchat
Top Snap Only

These ads display a single piece of content at the top of users’ feeds.

Brands often use these ads to drive people to a website landing page, to watch a long-form video, or to install an app. Snap ads usually include sound, turned on by default by most users.

Long Form Video Content

Primarily targeted at brands that have quality media to which they want to redirect Snapchatters.

They are ideal for bringing attention to even longer forms of content, for example, film trailers or snippets of other substantial pieces of content, such as a YouTube series. You can include a Call to Action with these types of ads.

Web View

Particularly useful for introducing your brand to Snapchatters.

Web View ads are similar to Top Snap Only ads. However, there is an additional feature. With Web View ads, users can swipe up on the ad and go to a particular URL. It is important that the URL relates to the ad.

Sponsored Geofilters

A geofilter is a graphic overlay that Snapchatters can place on their snaps.

Most Snapchatters use them, to the tune of 1 billion geofilter per day. Advertisers can create geofilters, based on where they are physically located.

Snapchat users are young, fun, and cynical. They will respond, however, to short ads that pique their interest. They also respect the views of their influencers, so you might also consider working with influencers to spread your message to Generation Z and Millennials. However, don’t crowd their style. They know how Snapchatters think.

Final Thoughts
For Snapchat, the closer we can get to ‘I want to talk to you’ – that emotion of wanting to see you and then seeing you – the better and better our product and our view of the world will be.Evan Spiegel

Evan Spiegel’s smashing success with Snapchat enabled him to enjoy the trappings of a rock star lifestyle, which included romancing Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr. Engaged in July 2016, they bought a home together in the ritzy L.A. neighborhood of Brentwood later that year, and were married in its backyard in May 2017.

Used in branding, advertisements, and by millions of young people across the globe to communicate; Snapchat is undoubtedly a financial success.

Despite the temptations of the last Facebook’s offer, Evan stuck to his guns and said no to selling his creation. And who can blame him?

Evan is currently sitting pretty on a very respectable 80% approval rating on Glassdoor. He is proof that with a little bit of determination and passion, you can successfully take an idea from conception and transform it into a profitable start-up – no matter your age or background.

Snapchat is also the proof that focusing your attention on offering your users the product they want before they even realize what they needed is the proper way to start your business.

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Resources
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel | Full interview | 2018 Code Conference
Michael Bloomberg and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel on Innovation, Sexting, and Critics
Snapchat headquarters for a tour and fun meeting day 6 vlogmas 2018
Snapchats Future Evan Spiegel tells us what is next for his app
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