🧠Case Study #94 - how an app got valued at $135M a week after launch

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here

If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏

Hello there!

Remember the TBH app? And how it went from $0 to being acquired by Facebook for $30M 9 weeks after launch?

Today's case study it's similar to the tbh app, but on STEROIDS!


Btw, you can still add your favorite movie (its IMDb URL) - a really special rare gem you recommend, to the curated list of not boring movies to watch

Other than that, this simple action will increase my deliverability rate, which will help me avoid the SPAM folder.


cards against humanity

Poparazzi – how to land #1 spot on App Store in 24 countries in a day (and get valued at $135M in less than a week) (11 min read)

Poparazzi – a social network that allows you to set up your profile, but only your friends can post photos to it. This counters the ideal photos of Instagram and should bring more authenticity to people’s online presence.

The app went viral and became a top download.

🥊Strategy & Tools


  • Mar 15, 2021 - the app is first published on the App Store. 

  • April 2, 2021 - a TikTok campaign starts, promoting the app beta and pre-order. The beta’s 10,000-user limit has been reached within just a few days.

  • May 25, 2021 - Official iOS release. The app gets downloaded by all who pre-ordered it automatically, taking it straight to the top charts on day 1 – top 10 in 53 countries and #1 in 24 countries. At its peak, it has been downloaded 2,000 times per second.

  • Jun 1, 2021 - over 1 million downloads (in less than a week!). #poparazziapp has been viewed over 15 million times on TikTok.

The number of worldwide downloads could be at 3.3 million now.

Limited functionality
Poparazzi doesn’t try to tick all the boxes. Its core feature is photo tagging and making photos of others which can be abused but profile owners have control over what is posted to their profiles–they can delete what they don’t like.

Apart from that, the platform focuses on sharing and doesn’t allow comments, nor sending DMs nor showing followers. You can only like a photo or add any emoji reaction to it. 

Content built on GIFs
You can only post a photo or a set of 9 consecutive photos within a set timeframe that will be posted as a GIF. It seems that all the users are using the platform to post GIFs 99% of the time.

Also notice that the content posted to Poparazzi will be unique to the platform as it gives that 3rd person view of a user. It won’t be replicated across Instagram or Facebook.

Great UX
Poparazzi has a great user experience of just playing around with the app. It welcomes you with an effective intro with haptics and vibrations. It then continues to use that effects when you interact with the app or shoot photos. It also recreates a red carpet photoshoot effect as the flash shoots only for a fraction of a second. Making GIFs with this effect could make the person on the other side of the camera indeed feel like being the object of paparazzi shots.

The target audience of Poparazzi is Gen Z, of course who are less attached to Instagram and have proven to look for its more authentic alternatives. It seems that TikTok is a vital part of marketing to that group. To make the ads more relevant, they were recorded by an unknown teenage girl that makes faces when headlines about the app appear. 

This type of content is new to the audience. It’s quite clear it stands out

Pre-order campaign
Since Apple has introduced app pre-orders in 2017, they allowed new apps to build demand before they officially launch. Pre-ordering an app means that the users will be notified when the app becomes available and it will be downloaded automatically within 24h from the release. Hence - 500,000 downloads could happen on the day of release.

Poparazzi capitalized on that through TikTok campaign that built demand and drove users to sign up for a pre-order. The first post on the Poparazzi account that promoted the app got over 1 million views and many comments and likes. It probably had been promoted, as not a single post repeated such success later on. Although they get a good 15-25k views.

There are accounts talking about the app set up entirely for promotional purposes.

Closed Beta
Following Clubhouse’s success, Poparazzi let a few people into a closed beta on AppStore’s Testflight, to build demand for those that weren’t invited. The user limit on Testflight is 10,000.

Many TikTokers were hyping up the Poparazzi beta. One of them posted the video with #ad hashtag which could mean some influencers were paid to talk about the app beta.

Poparazzi has definitely worked with some influencers with small-to-mid accounts as, for example, a girl named Esra Nova with over 139,000 followers seems to have multiple alt accounts named as „esranova50” , „esranova22”, etc. that all talk about the app.

After the release, the creators of top TIkToks with #poparazziapp hashtag are paid $500.

Word of Mouth
A large portion of the users came through word of mouth. Many TikTokers spread the word about the app on their profiles, inviting their friends and followers to install the app. You can also see that in TikTok comments with #poparazzi hashtag videos.

The app launches with a clever onboarding screen that uses haptics to buzz and vibrate your phone while the intro video plays. This is unusual enough that users will talk and post about how cool it was — another potential means of generating organic growth through word-of-mouth.

Collecting data
The app requires you to register with phone number which ensures that the users are real but doesn’t allow to use other login types if you prefer not to share your number.

It also requires you to share your contact list so you can find your friends and your friends can find you. If that’s not enough, it will ask you to enable location services to find people nearby.

Helping the network effect
After you allow all the permissions, you are automatically connected with all your contacts–if they were already Poparazzi users, they start following you immediately, and vice versa. The app also encourages you to invite your friends to download the app.

Referring to new users
Only your friends can post your photos. This means that unless you convince them to do that, your profile is empty. If they’re not on the platform, you’re more likely to ask them to join you, so you can share each other’s photos. That’s how you’ll do part of the Poparazzi’s marketing.

Snapchat integration
Sharing the app with your friends and asking them to post your photos is made easier outside of the platform through integration with Snapchat. You can ask for photos or share what you find. That also enhances the reach of Poparazzi-related posts on the established social media.

Incentivizing pops
The profiles feature a „Top Poparazzi” section which can be enough of a reason to post more frequently and get the top poparazzi bragging rights.

Easy outside sharing
Poparazzi doesn’t fight the giants. It encourages you to share your profile link wherever you like as it’s the biggest button there. Apart from that, it allows you to share any photo you see to your Snapchat, Insta Story or Instagram profile, so an interesting content has the potential to live outside Poparazzi.

IOS App Store Pre-order feature


Authenticity is well received by humans and we prefer authentic experiences and brands over non-human ones. The anti-polished look of paparazzi shoots is therefore attractive enough to check out the app

When a product is referred to us by our friend or a person we have a connection with (like an influencer), we’re much more likely to check their recommendation. This is why smaller influencer accounts have higher engagement and are often preferred by brands to work with–they can provide better results through their personal relationships with their audiences.

Snowball effect
With such successes, there’s always a snowball effect that fuels its growth further. Getting to top charts on the first day after the release helped many others to see the app which is why the number doubled in less than a week.

User experience
UX can be a buzzword these days but it makes the difference from a psychological standpoint by lowering the barriers of using it and making it more entertaining. We like to interact with things and systems that are responsive or fun to use.

People value scarce items higher than those widely available. This aspect has fueled the pre-release hype since the 10,000 Testflights spots were quickly taken. 

The only thing other 500,000 people could do was watch the beta testers having fun and posting it to their TikTok profiles.

Sensory appeal
People engage more with things that appeal to multiple senses. Poparazzi adds haptics to the interactions which makes it slightly more engaging than other apps. 

Curiosity gap
People have a deep desire to look missing information. Many people loved the app in the beta phase but others wanted to know why are they hyping the app so much. That built demand out of curiosity.


The story of Poparazzi is very similar to David Dobrik’s Dispo. The same target audience, similar acquisition channels, a lot of hype from the users and investors, and in both cases–the same mission to make social media more authentic.

Even though Dispo has been valued at $200 million, it struggles now–but that’s a backlash from serious accusations in the Vlog Squad and David Dobrik losing ground on many fronts. He had to step away from the app but it seems to not change the situation at all.

🔥Window of Opportunity

If there are examples of clever examples to make a product go viral, Poparazzi is one of the best recently. Every aspect of the app and the campaign has been designed to build hype, get shared, and go viral. 

The most lessons here are aimed at those who market to Gen Z. TikTok is the go-to platform for marketing. Scarcity still works but so does building apps around creating the network effect and working with influencers. After all, Poparazzi is pretty much useless without friends. The challenge now is to retain not only single users but whole groups of friends.

🔑Unlock Premium Membership

  1. The archive with 96 viral marketing case studies
    Recently added case studies covers:
    - A Viral campaign that persuaded 2M people to search for the lost love
    - How a regular guy collected over 70M followers within a month

  2. Another 104 case studies - 2 per week

  3. Social Media News once per week

  4. Brainiac - the list of 150 cognitive biases, principles & models

  5. Brainiac Online Flashcards (NEW) sample

Working on your marketing strategy? - use Brainiac and Case studies

Creating a new product? - use Brainiac and Viral Case studies

Creating new ads? - use Brainiac

Marketing tools change every year

These principles are timeless

Explore Premium Membership

Have feedback? Suggestions? Want to say hello? Reply here, message me on Twitter, or send a raven.

Older messages

🧲SMN #46

Thursday, June 10, 2021

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏 Bonjour! Let's explore the most

🧠Brainiac online card game - Launch TODAY

Thursday, June 3, 2021

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏 Greetings! I have to tell you something! I

🧠Creative marketing #2

Sunday, May 23, 2021

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏 Ola! Can I ask you a favor? Reply to this

🧠Case Study #86 - selling 1M pieces of ice cream a day thanks to influencer collaboration

Saturday, May 15, 2021

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏 Today's email is sponsored by: Get the

🧠Cognitive Bias in marketing #6 + opportunity

Thursday, May 6, 2021

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏 Since the last Thursday, 365 people joined

dr. FAMGA in the house

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Top blockchain investors. AI drug discovery. Store of the future. VIEW IN BROWSER CBINSIGHTS July 24, 2021 Hi there, After a record-setting AI funding quarter, our analysts are answering the questions

From 0 to 133k Followers and the Jetset Influencer Lifestyle

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Free Training Magazine PODCAST Articles How did Rachel Pregunta go from a sales job to traveling the world, forming international partnerships, and building a community of 133000 followers? Instagram.

What's 🔥 in Enterprise IT/VC #247

Saturday, July 24, 2021

How to scale from 100 to 700 people in 2 years? Here's Dipti's (VP People) playbook from Snyk ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

🗞 What's New: Substack's new podcast network

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Also: Quitting your job to launch vs. starting a side gig. Which is best for you? ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Should I keep doing this?

Saturday, July 24, 2021

​ Howdy! ​ I was curious to know: is it worth doing sales demos for our business? Ever since we started Transistor, we've had interest from larger, enterprise companies. (Especially for our private

🦄 Build your audience with this newsletter idea

Friday, July 23, 2021

Hey Makers, There's already 150 of you! So happy to have so many new readers. If you like my ideas, share the newsletter with your friends. You'll make my day! ❤️ This week I want to share an

10words: Top picks from this week

Friday, July 23, 2021

Do you want to reach 1500+ developers, designers, investors, and entrepreneurs & support 10words? Check out our new sponsorship options. 10words.io Discover new apps and startups in 10 words or

🧠Case Study #106 - How to Promote a Blockbuster using Memes

Friday, July 23, 2021

If you are just now finding out about Kickstart Side Hustle, you can subscribe here If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward this email to your friends! 🙏 Hey! Once again thank you for all the

Help us shape the future of Buffer’s tools and content! ✨

Friday, July 23, 2021

Hello there! 👋 I have a question for you: If you are the owner of a small or medium sized business, what do you believe has helped your brand grow the most in the past 3 months? Our team is on a

Bootstrapped Founder #94: How to Kill Your Business

Friday, July 23, 2021

​ The Bootstrapped Founder Logo ​ ​ Dear founder, Most advice comes in the shape of telling you what to do to be successful. It's instructional, it shows the happy path, and as a reader, I resonate