Born out of internal communications tool, Slack has grown to a valuation exceeding $4B with over 1.25m users globally. Chris Von Wilpert takes a look at how this one company achieved this level of success without the presence of a sales team.
Most of Slack’s initial growth was thanks to word-of-mouth marketing (and actually, even today this continues to be Slack’s #1 priority).
The initial word-of-mouth spread is partially attributed to Slack’s famous founder, Stewart Butterfield and partially attributed to Slack’s amazing product-market fit.
As expected, Butterfield (and the core team largely drawn from the founders that created Flickr) had the benefit of a lot of contacts, including those in the media, that they could leverage to get the word out. These connections obviously paid off – 8,000 people signed up on Slack’s very first day and two weeks later, that number had almost doubled.
Interestingly, Butterfield launched one project before Slack (a computer game called Glitch) which launched in September 2011 but closed down just over a year later in November 2012 due to not being able to attract an audience large enough to sustain itself. This is living proof that no matter how good your connections are and how great your product is, if it doesn’t meet the needs of the market, it will fail.
Butterfield learnt from his failure and his second project (Slack) found product-market fit instantly. Slack now continues to rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and on brand building to generate organic views to their website.
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