#Asia 5 crazy things startup founders did to kickstart their success

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From sending investors beer to disrupting a rival’s conference, these founders did all they could to draw attention in the initial years

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The likes of Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg have always been looked at as role models by millions of people around the world.

They are widely admired and respected, and their entrepreneurial life has been inspirational to young entrepreneurs. In simple words, they are kind of demigods to many.

However, like any other human being, they did also commit mistakes — intentionally or intentionally — to take their startups to the next level. They also did crazy things in order to come out of various crises in their startup life before they got noticed by millions.

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Here, we list the craziest things done by five of the hottest founders while building their ventures.

Source: Business Insider

1. Unable to raise funding, Airbnb founders sold cereal

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In the early days,  Airbnb— now a billion dollar company — struggled to raise seed funding, as angel investors were not so convincing about their concept.

Left with no option, the founders decided to take a different route that none would have ever taken. They bought huge quantities of bulk cereal, repackaged them, and branded them as limited-edition, politics-themed cereals called Obama O’s, and Cap’n McCain.

Surprisingly, the brand became a hit and it sold like hot cakes. The founders managed to get more than US$30,000, which was enough for them to get the startup going then.

2. Reddit founders operated thousands of fake accounts to simulate traffic

emailMany companies would have resorted to this crazy idea at some point in their initial days. Reddit is an entertainment, social networking, and news site where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links, making it essentially an online bulletin board system.

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Like any other startup, Reddit — launched in 2005 — also had issues with page traffic in its early days. This forced the founders to create and operate fake user accounts that ran into thousands. The founders responded to themselves to give the semblance of traffic, which apparently boosted actual traffic. Eventually, they abandoned the fake accounts as the firm grew.

3. PayPal founders gave out money for people to sign up and do referrals

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PayPal, the online payments unit of e-commerce giant eBay, to attract users to the company. They would give US$10 each to people to join and even more for referring friends. The gimmick paid off as they hit 1 million users soon after starting the firm. The company is now flying with over US$300 million being transacted per day.

4. Instacart founder sent beer bottles to draw the attention of YC’s Garry Tan

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The story goes like this. Instacart Founder Apoorva Mehta applied to Y Combinator’s programme two months after the deadline. As expected, he did not receive any response from the accelerator.

So, he decided to take an extreme step of sending six beer bottles to YC Co-founder Garry Tan in an apparent bid to draw his attention.

Surprisingly, Tan called him half an hour later and asked him to come over the next day. He recalled the episode this way: “I’m not sure if it was the beer talking, but he asked me to come to the YC headquarters the next day to meet the partners.”

5. Salesforce’s Marc Benioff hired fake protesters to disrupt rival’s conference

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Some founders are extremely good at marketing through negative publicity. Salesforce Co-founder Marc Benioff is one such person. Known for his crazy marketing techniques, he once disrupted rival company’s conference using fake protestors he hired. He even commandeered all the taxis at the event to pitch about his own product.

Image Credit:Alex Brylov/taraki/Shutterstock

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