Sign up FAST! Login

How Pinterest got started and pivoted.

Stashed in: Rejection, Startup Lessons, Venn!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Right after starting the company, together the founders came up with a product called Tote, "a catalogue that was on the phone." Says founder @8en :

"Everything seemed really hard. We couldn't get money. AppStore apps had just been released so the approval process was taking months."

He was told no by many potential investors.

Two things got him through that hard time. 1) He felt like he couldn't go back to Google. 2) He didn't want to let his co-founder down.

After a while, founders Ben and Paul pivoted away from Tote to Pinterest, though he really doesn't explain how that happened other than:

"I'd always thought that the things you collect say so much about who you are." Ben says his childhood bug collection is "Pinterest 1.0."

Visiting a friend in New York, Ben met a friend of a friend, Evan Sharp. They talked about Pinterest. "It was like he was the only who understands what [I] was saying." So they made him a co-founder, too. Evan came up with the grid layout.

When Pinterest launched in January 2010, Ben sent it to all his friends in California – "and actually, no one got it." He decided it was too late to go back.

Most early users were friends of his Mom in Des Moines, Iowa.

They couldn't afford an office so they moved into a house together. "Evan got the coveted door seat because you have to treat your designer really well," says Ben.

Their mantra was Move Fast and Break Things. Except for data. And hearts. Breakdancing ok.


After another year of struggling, Pinterest took off. This kept Ben in a perpetual state of Terror and Joy. And that's really all he said about Pinterest taking off.


Ben says Pinterest is the place to plan the most important projects in your life.

He also says Pinterest's mission is not to keep you online, it's to get you offline. Pinterest should inspire you to go out and do the things you love.

Pinterest also wants to be a place where people discover beautiful things they didn't know you were looking for.

I'd say they're off to a great start.

You May Also Like: