The story of how Instagram started is quite a short one, but an interesting one nevertheless. Instagram was still in its infancy when it was purchased by the social media behemoth that is Facebook. An app that had existed for just 551 days, and had made absolutely no revenue, sold for $1 billion. How exactly did the 28-year-old company founder, Kevin Systrom, manage to pull off this feat?
In the beginning of January 2009, Systrom, who had no formal computer science education, started to put time and energy into teaching himself to be able to code. It was around about this time that Foursquare was beginning to become popular, which resulted in the increased interest of location check-in apps. Although Systrom had a few concepts developed for these type of apps, in late 2009 he started to pour all of his attention into a single up. This app combined many elements of things that were popular at the time, including Foursquare.
"I figured I could build a prototype of the idea in HTML5 and get it to some friends," Systrom said, in an interview. "Those friends ended up using the prototype without any branding elements or design at all."