Quantifying Success in 2015: What are the Best Startups Doing Right?

The team collaboration tool Slack — recently valued at 2.8 billion dollars — is one of the hottest startups out there today. What started as a relatively niche chatroom app quickly ballooned into the definitive internal communications tool for businesses and organizations of every size. Slack is an example of what can be achieved when you fill a function that audiences didn’t even know they wanted until they had it. 

While identifying a need in society is an all-important part of why certain products succeed and others fail, there are so many little things that are a part of this little app’s success story. When you boil it down, Slack really is just another chatroom app with some cool features. So why does it have 1.1 million daily users and why is it widely considered the next evolution of business internal comms?

Andrew Wilkinson of MetaLab, the design agency behind Slack’s user interface, put his thoughts in on why Slack’s iconic look and feel played a major role in its remarkable success story. Before Andrew got their hands on Slack, according to him “it looked like a hacked together version of IRC in the browser.” IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is the bog standard for chat room services. The UI is clunky and basic, but it gets the job done. Andrew and his team took that diamond in the rough and shaped it into an incredibly user-friendly design that leveraged one core principle: fun.

Slack has a genuine sense of personality. It practically bleeds fun with its vibrant colors, friendly typeface, emoticons, and entertaining feature integration like Giphy. Slack has an identity. It feels more like a friend than a tool. You form an emotional connection because it makes you feel something when you interact with it.

These elements of personality and identity are verifiably what turn good products into great ones. And that’s exactly why these are the things that every startup looking to follow in Slack’s example should be trying to emulate. 


You can see these same traits echoed in all of the startups you’d commonly see listed in 2015 top lists. Shyp, Instacart, Jet, Uber. These titans of their respective industries are only picking up speed as time passes and they all do it right just like Slack. The innovators who brought these ideas to the world saw something that people would want to use, and boy were they right. That’s one of the most important keys to finding your own game-changing idea. You need to be proactive, you can’t simply react to what’s already out there on the market. 

If you do choose to iterate then you better be prepared to release a product that has way more personality than what’s already out there. That means a simple, but engaging user interface for digital and a strong, seamless brand for everything else.

Instacart markets itself by giving customers grocery bags that advertise their brand with every order. This is a convenience to customers and it’s one of the ways that the startup builds relationships with their customers and ongoing loyalty. If you can find ways to strengthen your brand as a part of your service in much the same way then you’re one step closer toward the success milestones that you’re chasing. 

Yes, it’s true there’s some luck and circumstance involved, but you can’t let yourself be defeated by that. Part of success has always been about recognizing when you are in the right place at the right time and leveraging that to your advantage

Luck is just another factor that you need to build into your arsenal. If you’re prepared with the research that is going to help you identify what your space is and how you can maximize your output then that’s another mark in your favor. 

These startups that set themselves apart from the competition took all these elements (identifying a need, building a personality, and knowing when exactly to hit the ground running) and turned them to their advantage. The results speak for themselves

— ZK

Ed Lynes2 Comments