Rohit Mishra

Thoughts which don’t fit in 140 characters.

Why Viral Invite Systems Suck

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There is a growing trend for websites to ask us to invite our friends and followers to their web app, so that we can be bumped ahead in their early access queue. It is called the viral-invite system, which was probably started by Forkly. Heck, Launchrock built a startup out of this idea. I am glad that Launchrock has been successful and will probably use it to create a better landing page for my own startup, Allotrop.

But, I don’t like the idea that startups make us push for them before even letting us see a sneak peek of their product. I thought I am the only one who feels so, but then I read about Eric Ries’ experience at IMVU in his book The Lean Startup.

Context: IMVU had called a 17-year old girl to their office to try out their product. She liked building a 3D avatar of herself, and then they got her to download an IM client.

Excerpt from the book 

“Okay, invite one of your friends to chat.” And she says, “No way!” We say, “Why not?” And she says, “Well, I don’t know if this thing is cool yet. You want me to risk inviting one of my friends? What are they going to think of me? If it sucks, they are going to think I suck, right?” And we say, “No, no, it’s going to be so much fun once you get the person in there; it’s a social product.” She looks at us, her face filled with doubt; you can see that this is a deal breaker.

Let me use your app. If it is good, I will ask my friends and followers to join voluntarily. Till then, I am happy at the back of the early access queue.