Ask.fm is a service where anybody can ask you questions directly or anonymously, and has seen explosive growth. What is great about the service is that you can only “post” if there is a question for you. So users do not posting every little thing you did today, as many do on Twitter.
I personally first heard about them at Arctic15 this year and we were stunned to find out that a social network with over 21 million users and 9 million uniques was started right around the corner.
The statistics are impressive, but perhaps what is even more impressive is that the company is already profitable given that they only started in 2010. Facebook, for instance had a net loss of $3.63 million 2 years after launch.
To find out more, we had an interview with Ilja Terebin, the CEO of Ask.fm. According to Ilja, the idea basically came from FormSpring, which has a very similar concept. However, they thought that they could implement it in a better way. For instance one of the very first things that Ask.fm focused on, was to translate the site into as many languages as possible, aiming to make a global product.
From there, they saw that there were many other things that could be improved upon in comparison to FormSpring. This shows as Ask.fm has already overtaken FormSpring in terms of worldwide traffic generated and currently sits on the 404th rank of Alexa. (November 2012)
To get their very first users, Ask.fm used Social Media Marketing. More specifically, they got Bloggers, Facebook, Twitter and vKontakte users to write about using Ask.fm and continued using this technique for the first four months after launch, when organic growth took over.
Hockey stick growth can be a dangerous and difficult to control and facilitate so in January 2012 Ask.fm got their first investment from a technology and investment fund – Rubylight, who we wrote about earlier. The money and the technical knowledge helped scale the business and reach 9 million daily uniques.
The main market for Ask.fm is teenagers that are 13-18 years old and the money comes in from advertising and paid services such as virtual gifts.
Ilja also shared some practical advice for all entrepreneurs out there. The advice is not to be afraid if there are already products out there that are similar to your idea. The important thing is to realize that the product is needed by many and that you can do it better right from the start. If you can figure out why your product would be better, then you just need to work on it, a lot. Any product can be successful if you put enough work into it.
There are 4 co-founders and only one of them is a developer. That being said they have quickly expanded to a team of 16 and are currently looking for system administrators, ruby and java developers, so if you fancy working for possibly the next big thing, give them a shout.
Any questions? Comment below or ask me on my very own Ask.fm profile.