The Experience
Teach at Jolt

The hack that increased users by 3900%

Nina Gordon
October 6, 2019

Dropbox is a $4 billion company that’s spent next to nothing on advertising.

Instead, they’ve implemented numerous growth hacks to acquire customers at scale. Rather than paying per customer with traditional advertising methods they’ve used hacks where the cost is in the execution and the benefits to the company are ongoing at no extra cost.

Their referral scheme grew Dropbox’s registered users by 3900% in 15 months. They doubled their user base every three months between 2008 and 2010. 

And it’s so simple. Dropbox is a storage space in the cloud. People are always gathering more and more files and they need somewhere to save them. So what’s the best thing Dropbox could offer their users in return for inviting their friends? More space, 500mb to be exact. And their friends get an extra 500mb too.

That’s not all they did. There were various other steps that made it a success, just little tweaks to their overall product. They made the referral scheme part of the onboarding process.  Gave users a clear view of the benefits throughout their product. And made the whole referral process super easy to do. They even let their users know which of their friends had and hadn’t taken them up on the offer.

Dropbox used a set of tools, methodologies and behaviours that have allowed them to scale en masse with fewer resources. They’ve fully embraced the startup mindset, and come out on top. Businesses that want to be in the right time and place to take advantage of such opportunities need to know how to move fast. Take risks. Experiment with new things, new products, new audiences. In short, they should act like a startup. 

Jolt. Teaching startup business.  

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

Because almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.

Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...

Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.

And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.

The cognitive load is real, y'all.

But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.

Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.

The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.

Your dreams don't have an expiration date.

Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.

And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.

Here's a challenge for you

Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.

Put airplane mode on for a while. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it.

Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.

When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.


"A spark of inspiration needs an empty cave."

Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.

Taken by over 18,500 people; Calibrated by 100s of tech employees

By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success

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