Side Projects That Became Very Successful

Do you wish to start a new business or expand your business into a different area? Or, do you want to earn some side income or create a new project while you’re still employed in your regular job? Well, anyone can start side businesses or side projects. If you combine hard work with perseverance, a “can-do” attitude, positivity, and a dash of luck, who knows, your side project will become runaway success!

You may not experience overnight success, and that’s okay. The ability to turn even the biggest misfortunes to their advantage is one of the defining characteristics of successful people. Also, they never fail to seize every good opportunity they happen to see. These examples below illustrate how these founders turn these side projects into iconic successes:


Instagram app

Instagram is currently the most popular photo-sharing and social networking app, with 400 million monthly active users. Less than two years after Instagram’s inception in 2010, Facebook acquired it for $1 billion. But it was not the original project that its founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, developed.

Instagram started as Burbn, which initially was a mobile check-in app that intended to combine the attributes of other apps such as Mafia Wars and, most of all, Foursquare. However, users saw Burbn as too similar to Foursquare, and also found it complicated to use. However, they were using Burbn’s photo-sharing feature a lot more than its check-in feature. So, Systrom and Krieger decided to focus on the photo-sharing infrastructure and threw everything else. Burbn would become a photo-sharing app as “Instagram,” which was coined from the words “instant camera” and “telegram.”


twitter app on tablet
Not a lot of social media platforms can be as iconic and influential as Twitter. It began in 2006 by several people, most notably Noah Glass, Florian Webb, and Jack Dorsey. It grew to become one of the most recognized and most used social media platforms in the world, with over 300 million users who post over 340 million tweets a day.

Odeo was a company where all the Twitter founders worked. Odeo was creating a podcasting platform, but unfortunately, it was around the time when Apple launched podcasting on iTunes. So needless to say, the idea of going up against a giant like Apple would surely be a lost cause. So, Odeo realized it needed to re-invent itself, and the team began brainstorming for new ideas.

Dorsey introduced the novel idea of creating a short messaging service (SMS) that would enable a user to “talk” with a small group of people. The new project was originally called “status” until the founders found a perfect new name for it: Twitter. The original product name was “twittr.”

According to an article from Business Insider, Twitter was: “a system where you could send a text to one number and it would be broadcasted out to all of your friends.” And the rest is history.

So as you can see, the original idea of Twitter was quite far from what it eventually became, although conceptually, it was pretty close.


Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking platform. Unlike other blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger, Tumblr is more free-form. It allows users to add all types of content – from text to pictures to videos to GIF’s – and have complete control over their blog’s theme and appearance.

Tumblr began during a two-week gap between contracts at Davidville, a software consulting company founded by David Karp that built business websites. He was working with a lead developer named Marco Arment (who would establish Instapaper).

While the pair received a steady stream of work, their clients otherwise disliked working with them. In  2006, Karp and Arment had a two-week gap between contracts. It should be noted that Karp had been interested in tumblelogs (short blogs). During this period, they began to work on a new project, a tumblelogging platform that was to be called Tumblr.

Tumblr was launched in February 2007, and two weeks after its launch, it gained 75,000 users. And the rest is history.

Tumblr hosts 475 million blogs and had over 400 million active users (as of August 2019).


Pinterest Logo
Before Pinterest landed on the radar as one of the hottest social media platforms, it experienced some obstacles.

Pinterest founder and CEO Ben Silbermann developed an app called Tote, which was intended as a clothing retail outlet. It turned out to be a dud. The idea was actually excellent, as the app was an ideal alternative to bulky catalogs. However, what Tote failed to develop were easy mobile-based payments. At the time, technology was not so advanced to allow easy, “on-the-go” online transactions. It seemed that the timing was not yet right to provide a mobile shopping experience since mobile transactions and payments were not so seamless at the time.

Silbermann decided to move on, and use the failure of Tote to take off as an opportunity to build another project, along with other founders Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. That project is now Pinterest, which now enjoys 300 million users monthly.