What most people do not see in TBH, an app sold for around USD 100m to Facebook, only nine weeks after its launch are that it requires hard work and overcoming failure before successful deploying an app. Whilst the time to exit was short for TBH, it was most certainly not an overnight success for the makers behind the app.

If you dig a little bit into the business of creating mobile apps, you’ll learn that you’ll need to find the right acquisition channels, set up your monetization strategy and partners, have a clear branding with awesome user interface, integrate the right tools to measure everything (from acquisition to ROI). And, the list of all the efforts needed to succeed on the App Store continues.

It doesn’t matter if you have the ability, marketing budget or skills to take an app to the Top 10 charts, if it’s not a product that users love, share and engage, on a small scale, it will not succeed. It goes hand-in-hand with Sam Altman’s quote: “It’s much better to first make a product a small number of users love than a product that a large number of users like.” In his blog post, Kevin Natanzon, founder of BetaLabs, summaries the key to success for TBH.

1 - Design for growth

The problem is that makers seem to underestimate the power of designing for growth to make something go viral. It requires hard work to understand your target customer group, in order to make an app go viral. It is much more than just implementing growth hacks, it’s about deeply integrating the experience of getting the word out into the product. It’s a mindset that product designers need to incorporate into their work flow. Designing for growth equals spending less money into advertising, as you’ll only need to seed the initial set of users and they’ll be the ambassadors.

2 - Willingness to find out key insights from users

The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of users is what will differentiate working smart from working hard to build something useless. If you want to build something useful, there’s no shortcut for feedback loops. TBH can be considered a product that was almost an overnight success, due to the time from first published to acquired. However, it took the team 14 apps and 5 years to gain the right insights to build something truly valuable. One of the main reasons Facebook bought it, was that TBH showed its ability to understand Gen Z.

3 - Improve retention and interactions with triggers

Retention metrics are the ones that truly unveil the potential of a product. Internal and external triggers are key to achieve high retention. Ideally, as a product maker, you want to have a place in your user’s mind. I don’t need notifications or external triggers to log into an app as it’s part of the users’ daily routine to know what’s happening within their community.