Instagram Star Founder – in the Mold of Thomas Edison

In the Internet market, entrepreneurship is alive and well, and increasingly populated with bright, young innovators. This 20-30 year-old crowd, is focused, and edgy about reaching out to new markets. They shape the market while serving it, which seems to be one of their hallmarks … living and thriving with constant change.

Instagram Star Founder - in the Mold of Thomas Edison

Consider Kevin Systrom, a computer “geek” as early as 12, this lanky fellow, soon realized his talents were in shaping ideas and markets, rather than the intricacies of computer science. He took management science and engineering in college; after all, if you are going to build a company …  people, finances, and fund-raising powers the inventive pump of high-tech. Folks like Systrom learn through playful hands-on prototyping, and working with others through various early jobs [for him Google, G-Mail and the forerunner of Twitter] Quickly, young entrepreneurs like him become hungry for practical applications, making real products, ones that often tend to involve a bit of self-indulgence as well.

Systrom figured out how to take a personal passion for photography and make it into something others can enjoy. Hey, if do what you have fun with, you are not really working…are you? His Instagram site is about his love of pictures and social interactions. Instagram is not just about photos per se, but the ability to give those photos a personality as well, perhaps a retro, hip, nostalgic feel. You control the look and feel of the photo—the context through which they are viewed and perceived.

Here is what Wikipedia says about Instagram: “a free photo-sharing program and social network that was launched in October 2010. The service allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other Instagram users they are connected to on the social network as well as on a variety of social networking services. Instagram currently has 80 million registered users.” Kevin must be doing something right, as his company was sold in April 2012 to Facebook for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock, from which Systrom personally realized about $400 million.

Talking about photos … it is worth noting here that Edison teamed up with George Eastman of Eastman-KODAK fame, another entrepreneur, to make film strips for Edison’s first peep-hole motion picture shows-the original visual nickelodions. From this was launched the modern era of motion pictures.

So much of this Instagram success evokes Thomas Edison, a millionaire in his early 30s, a world-changing “wizard”; a fellow who originally worked as an itinerant telegrapher during the Civil War and applied his love of the technology and problem solving to mankind’s ultimate benefit. Like Systrom and other young entrepreneurs, Edison gave us huge change … recorded sound and motion pictures, the very basis of all smart phones; and the electric utility system to light our way and re-charge our smart phone batteries. Here are Edison’s four rules of business:

  • Think out of the box
  • Be entrepreneurial … take risks
  • Fail your way to success
  • Success demands that you improve your products
Instagram Star Founder - in the Mold of Thomas Edison

Betcha’ Kevin Systrom and his contemporaries have no trouble grasping what Edison meant 125 years ago!

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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