Linktree Startup Journey

Instagram’s limit to having one link in your bio is frustrating, especially if you have an ecosystem of content you need to share with your audience.

This is the gap that Aussie tech startup, Linktree, sought to fix. It’s a free tool enabling Instagram users to share multiple facets of their online presence with their followers - all through one bio link.

We chatted with Co-Founder of Linktree, Alex Zaccaria, to learn about his experience in the music industry, his digital and creative agency Bolster, and the incredible story behind Linktree. This Fireside Chat was moderated by Chris Kirk, General Manager of Stone & Chalk Adelaide.

Alex and his brother, Anthony (the other Co-Founder of Linktree), grew up with their parents owning a small business, so they developed an entrepreneurial mindset from an early age.

Before Linktree, the brothers had been working in the music industry, which - they realised - “wasn’t taking advantage of new ad-tech solutions in the e-commerce realm, and traditional media agencies were overcharging and under-delivering.” It was from here that their creative and digital agency, Bolster, was born in July 2015.

Bolster manages end-to-end digital marketing strategies for big clients, such as the Australian music festivals Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival, and Australian artist, Flume. Through this, Alex, Anthony and their friend/business partner, Nick, soon realised Instagram didn’t allow separate domains to be included on profiles. For a music festival, that could consist of links to tickets, merchandise, or artist lineups.

This inspired Linktree’s conception, with the first of the tool’s prototype being “built in under a day in March 2016.” The trio immediately introduced it to their Bolster clients and asked them to put a Linktree link in their Instagram bios. It was welcomed reluctantly at first, with people questioning the effectiveness of the idea due to its simplicity.

These concerns didn’t affect Alex or his team because Linktree was simply a side hustle that was complimenting Bolster’s services and solving a problem. The thought of monetising the idea hadn’t even been conceived in the early days.

It wasn’t until their Bolster clients started giving feedback and requesting customisable features, that a paid Linktree subscription option was created.

The “really big moment” was when Alicia Keys signed up to Linktree. Alex remembers having to “turn off the Slackbot a few hours after she’d signed up!”

A special promotional deal on the payment option was offered to Alicia Keys’ agency (who signed her up), on the condition that all their other clients sign up to Linktree. “So they did, and we had people like Eminem sign up!”

It was a domino effect from there onwards: if a big artist signed up, then smaller artists would follow; when Jamie Oliver signed up, thousands of other chefs did the same.

“The product itself is its own marketing,” with organic growth enabling Linktree to scale without any raising efforts. Additionally, personal recommendations have helped in validating the tool, with 64% of sign ups being self-referred.

“I definitely never expected Linktree to scale to what it is today,” says Alex. In July 2018, the tool celebrated 1 million users. Now, Linktree has over 7 million users, with up to 300,000 new sign ups a day (as of August 2020)!

When asked about his experience working with his brother, Alex says, “We saw our relationship as an advantage - we are very honest and to the point with each other.” They would “work crazy hours” together for no salary - investing any revenue into hiring more developers.

The future of Linktree is exciting, with a vision to enable revenue through the tool, and democratise people’s digital presence and the internet as a whole. But for now - and based on personal experience - Alex’s takeaway is the importance of listening to your body during your startup journey: “Take a break, stop to do some reading, get back into nature, take a holiday and destress.”

You can watch the full discussion on our YouTube channel here.

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