Today at Disrupt SF, Frontback co-founder and CEO Frédéric della Faille took the stage to introduce Frontback to the world. After 200,000 downloads in a month, everybody is trying to answer this intriguing question: why is this app so successful? Jack Dorsey, Ashton Kutcher and the Prime Minister of Belgium are all using Frontback, because they may know something that we don’t.
Michael Arrington grilled della Faille about Checkthis, the startup behind Frontback. While Checkthis has been around for a while, it hasn’t caught everyone’s attention. “The product is still around and doing well,” della Faille said. Yet, he made a revelation on the harsh life of consumer startups.
“We didn’t tell the investors that we were working on that”
“We were close to closing. Two weeks to closing,” he said. To post something on Checkthis, you need 15 taps. With Frontback, the team wanted to build a very straightforward product to create content. “We went from 15 taps to 5 taps,” he said.
Frontback was the startup’s last chance to finally find its right product. “We didn’t tell the investors that we were working on that,” della Faille said. That’s why Frontback was developed over the course of four weeks and released as an MVP.
Since then, the team has been hard at work on improving the product. It just released its first major update that brings much-needed social features. The app now comes with user profiles, making it possible to browse other people’s Frontbacks and more.
But it doesn’t explain why Frontback is generating hundreds of thousands of downloads. Its well-known users are part of the answer, but the product in itself is probably the reason why the app got popular. It is a very viral experience because it’s really fun to use. As della Faille said, Frontback is a smile-generating machine.
“I didn’t expect at all this kind of growth,” della Faille told me recently. Frontback was released in July, and it apparently played an important part of the launch. Many people took Frontbacks of what they were doing on vacation, having fun together.
Back in 2010, Instagram reported 1 million registered users in less than three months. Yet, Frontback is a very different experience and shouldn’t even be considered as yet another photo-sharing app.
As Brian Pokorny said on stage, with Snapchat, FaceTime and the smartphone front cameras, many people have progressively gotten used to taking selfies. Now that everyone is more comfortable sharing their faces, Frontback users open the app, smile, and show the app to their friends. It’s as simple as that.