5 things I have learned from Jan Koum, Founder of WhatsApp

Since Facebook offered $19 billion to buy the startup messaging service WhatsApp, Jan Koum has been a media darling as people everywhere are fascinated by his rags-to-riches story. Here are some takeaway business lessons from his amazing story:

Anything is possible.

Although it is statistically unlikely that any one person who is on food stamps will one day rise to become a multi-millionaire, it is possible. Jan Koum is a living testament to this possibility. The native Ukrainian was on food stamps as a teenager. Now, he is worth $6.8 billion.

The user is king.

That is, you need to be sure that your product is tailored to the user’s desire. Koum said, “We wanted to build a service where user and customer are one,” and because of that he created an app without an ads.

Venture capital is still cool.

For a while it seemed like venture capital was falling out of favor, but WhatsApp reminds us that venture capital is still cool. In fact, WhatsApp is the largest acquisition of a venture-backed company ever.

Passion and focus generate success.

Like many successful start-ups, WhatsApp focused intensely on one thing – consumer experience. That’s because they understood #2 on this list – the user is king.

Marketing isn’t the necessity it once was.

WhatsApp completely eschewed traditional advertising and marketing in building its customer base. Viral is the new form of marketing, and WhatsApp targeted that by creating the best user experience that it coul.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.