We created a link-sharing platform as a solution to an issue that we continuously came up against while running social media campaigns for the clients of our digital agency. The issue was, quite simply, that Instagram only allowed one link in a users profile. We commissioned a developer to build us a prototype of the solution we had in mind and thus, the first iteration of Linktree was born. We started using it just among family, friends and the clients we were working with at the time. It’s safe to say that our first three users would have been agency clients and perhaps a family member or two.
How did you validate the idea?
One of the incredible things about Linktree has been its organic growth. We created a solution to a problem that we thought was unique to us; but it turns out millions of other people had the same problem. One of the key moments of validation for us, was early on, when the platform was uploaded to Product Hunt. From that point the number of users signing up jumped astronomically, with people like Alicia Keys jumping on board. That’s when we really knew that we were onto something.
Who is your target demographic?
When we started out, three years ago, it would have been fair to say that our target audience was Instagram users, but in the last 24 months that’s shifted significantly. 40 percent of our users come from outside of Instagram, using the platform across social platforms like YouTube and Twitch and even in place of the likes of website tools Squarespace or Wix.
Instead of building out Linktree with products that suit how we think it should be used, we really try and listen to what users are actually doing with the platform and developing products that are genuinely useful. It takes us in some surprising directions – like Linktree being used in place of websites or resumes – but ultimately helps us to meet the needs of our users.
Any tips for finding first employees?
After launching in 2016 we grew quickly. One of the key learnings was the importance of hiring quickly, but also of hiring right. When you’re in desperate need of those extra hands, it can be easy to jump at the first opportunity to hire but we’ve learned how important it is to slow down and be considered. It’s crucial that the people you hire truly align to the culture and ethics of the business you are trying to build.
As a result, I’m super proud of the team we’ve grown here – they are curious, brave and vocal, and we’ve achieved some incredible work.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
We have more than 3 million users across the world who use Linktree for all different reasons – the might be celebrities or major brands, but they might also be smaller businesses or individuals running their Etsy account. We’re very conscious that we are helping people to connect and do business – in whatever form – on the internet, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Quite simply, our end goal is to simplify the internet and to make it easier for side-hustlers, creators and entrepreneurs to share more, sell more, curate more and grow more.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
Don’t wait, just start now. And build for scale. There’s no way we could have anticipated the scale at which Linktree has grown over the last three years, but it’s something that we always wish we had been more prepared for.
What apps do you use to run your business?
Zoom, Slack & Google Docs are critical for our teams spread across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, LA and London. In fact, when we first started Linktree, we used to receive a Slack notification for every new user. It’s not possible anymore (given we have over 10,000 new sign ups everyday) but their integrations have been a tremendous help with our customer support and marketing.
We strive for agility across the company and having all teams on Confluence makes decision-making collaborative and transparent. Metabase has also been invaluable in terms of helping us to dig into our data and understand our user behaviour. It helps us to align any new features with messaging and to see what leads to conversion for our users.
Would you ever sell the company?
Linktree has been our passion project for three years now. We started the company as a side-hustle and have now grown the business to a point where it’s a key focus. It’s been an incredibly exciting journey. We might be at 3 million users but we still feel like we’re only just getting started.