6 growth hacking examples from the Silicon Valley (Dropbox, Airbnb, Youtube…)

As we’ve seen in our previous article, Growth hacking is a way of thinking and acting. It is a set of little techniques that may seem dumb and easy to think of, little ideas that have an exponential impact on the growth of your start-up. There are a lot of stories about successes of start-ups through growth hacking. We will try to give you leads on what has already worked for a few of some of the most well-known unicorns.


Refer a friend

Dropbox had a simple but great idea to allow its users to earn free additional space by inviting friends and make them sign up to the service. But you can’t expect the user to do that unless he’s already satisfied with your service, so timing also comes into account. It also has to be easy, if the process is too arduous, you won’t get as many referrals.

Use your enemies

Airbnb used Craiglist system to automatically post every listing an user would make on its website, to a Craiglist listing. They benefited from the popularity of Craiglist and hacked their way into being today the major platform for booking short term accommodation.

Make a video that will go viral

Dropbox, again, had the idea to take everything that worked on Youtube (Lolcats and memes), and mix them into a superb video that explained the concept and created the buzz. It helped them reach a 10% increase in conversions. The website they designed aimed for simplicity and consisted in two main components: an Explainer Video and a button to Download.

Find out what people like, and give it to them

Youtube has used a very edgy method to get more crowd, which was to pay women so that they publish striptease videos on the platform. Success followed and people started to publish their own videos and it led to the Youtube we all know today.

Use social networking services’ APIs

Spotify worked with Facebook to make its users automatically share what they were listening to on their profile. It immensely contributed to increase brand awareness.

Use people habits to your advantage

Linkedin benefited from a very simple fact, we often Google names to learn more about a person for various reasons. They thus gave their users the option to create public profiles. This resulted in the fact that when you searched a name on Google, the first link that would come up would be his Linkedin page. No more endless scrolling to investigate a person thanks to Linkedin!


We could go on and on with these examples, Buffer, Hotmail, Paypal, Quora, we can benefit from every success story out there. But one can never reproduce what they achieved first. Because part of what made their ideas successful is that no one thought about it before. Which means growth hacking is hard to reproduce and requires creativity and patience.

Stay tuned for our next article which will explore the limits of Growth hacking.


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