How did a App Development Idea Become Something as Big as WhatsApp

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How did a mobile app development idea become something as big as WhatsApp
  • January 8, 2018
  • By Irfan Ahmed Khan
  • General
  • 0

How did a App Development Idea Become Something as Big as WhatsApp

Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are that the soft pinge of a WhatsApp message rouses you from the depths of slumber and reaching out to your phone inadvertently.

Everyone is well aware of what WhatsApp is and what it is used for, however, what people are oblivious to are the struggles that the founder of WhatsApp went through to make his dream a reality.

A Little Introduction about the Founders

Together, Jan Koum and Acton founded a mobile app whose sole purpose was to facilitate ease of communication. WhatsApp fit the bill since it rendered daily communication breezy and hassle-free. By introducing an Internet-based communication medium, WhatsApp effectively targeted a demographic that was yearning for a platform that could save them a fortune and offer a means of effective communication, as an alternate to the telecom business. It was after the advent of WhatsApp that telecommunication service provider companies ventured out to create better opportunities for their cell phone users, in an attempt at keeping their lucrativeness flourishing and at the same time instilling innovation in what was their core business.

Jan Koum is originally from Ukraine. He moved to Mountain View with his single mother who used to work as a construction manager at Ukraine, helping build hospitals and schools. Koum was 16 years old when they migrated. Since his birth, he never met his father and his parents seldom talked as the authorities could have tapped their phone call. To keep up with the tough times, Koum initially took up a job of sweeping floors at a grocery seller and his mother started working as a babysitter to make ends meet.

On the other hand, Acton grew up in Central Florida and went to two different universities before ending up in Stanford University to complete his computer science degree in 1994. After completing his education, he started working for Apple as a software engineer followed by working at Yahoo in 1996. At Yahoo, he was mainly responsible for advertising and data processing.

Both the founders happened to meet during the time when Koum was working with Ernst and Young and was assigned a task to inspect Yahoo’s advertising system. Acton remembered Koum as a no nonsense person who only concentrated on his job. After that Koum was hired at Yahoo and their friendship grew. Their growing relationship ended up with both of them quitting their jobs in 2007 and venturing out to fulfill their wander lust.

Later in 2009, the idea of a mobile app development popped up in Koum’s mind. Koum was at a friend’s gathering at the time, and the reality that dawned over him regarding the gap in sending instant notifications to friends, later evolved in to the idea of a mobile application for instant messaging.

Acton earned the title of a co-founder when he was able to raise a seed funding amount of $250,000 in 2009 when WhatsApp required funding to improve its growth potential. Their strategies worked and WhatsApp soon accumulated 800 million active users by 2015.

What can budding entrepreneurs take Away From the WhatsApp story?

So, as the mobile app grew in popularity and the user base soared, budding business owners started getting inquisitive of what led Whatsapp to this profound success.

According to Acton: “we focused on sustaining our business and generating revenue instead of becoming big fortnightly.”

The secret ingredient here is the collaboration of the two founders that led the app on the skies of success. Mobile application development has never been easy for either of the two founders, however by staying on the same page and concentrating on different areas of the business, they managed to get more stuff done in lesser time.

What are the lessons learned?

  • You are never too late to start afresh: Probably the first lesson that Koum and Acton teach us is that it’s never too late to start over. People think that 30s is not the right age to venture into a new business. However, Koum and Acton proved it wrong by quitting their jobs and becoming entrepreneurs in their late 30s.
  • Have common interests: people who have similar interests can become better entrepreneurial partners than those with conflicting notions and visions. Conflicting ideas by even the most prolific business individuals, seldom land in greener pastures.
  • Persistence is the way forward: No body is immune to adversaries and hardships. If Koum or Acton had bowed down to the hardships in their lives, they wouldn’t have created a successful platform for instant messaging which is nothing less than an evolution in itself.
  • Reap positive results with persistency: persevering and staying persistent to your ideas and visions is the door that gestures your app forward to budding success. Entrepreneurial businesses often face hardships, just as Whatsapp did, but the founders remained tenacious and arranged for alternative ways to fuel the budding business, thus propelling it through rough times to prosperity.
  • Innovation and uniqueness: The founders of Whatsapp saw a gap in the society that needed to be bridged. If Koum hadn’t felt the need to create an app which would help him in sending instant messaging, Whatsapp wouldn’t be a reality today. It is that one innovative idea that you present to your target market that not only bags success but evolves on a day to day basis, improving your profitability as you grow


The story of Whatsapp is often shared on different forums, but what is often lacking are the lessons that these entrepreneurs taught us while paving their way for a successful online business venture.

Every app development idea is a success if it’s executed according to the appropriate set of techniques and guidelines that are being put forward by successful entrepreneurs already in the business. Alternatively, you can also get in touch with a app development company if you have a unique app idea bubbling up in your mind.

Irfan Ahmed Khan

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