Entrepreneurs are always looking for that one feature in a product, the key feature that is so valuable that users are willing to put up with bugs, bad copy, and ads, just to use it. It's hard to figure out what that feature is, especially when you have a strong vision for your product and how customers should use it.
Mixergy recently highlighted a story which we've been telling our friends and enemies for years. It's the famous story of how our old client Photobucket discovered one core feature that gave their product an identity and eventually led to their $250 million acquisition.
Shortly before Darren Crystal and Alex Welch co-founded Photobucket, Alex launched a photo sharing site on which they noticed that people were doing something that they did not want them to do. They were uploading photos to the site and then immediately embedding those photos on sites like eBay, LiveJournal, Craigslist, and Myspace. This was going against the original vision for the site, which was supposed to be a place for people to store and share their photos with each other.
Cohen mentioned that at one point they even disabled the embedding functionality temporarily. The users screamed. They didn't care about photo sharing, all they wanted was to embed or link their images from other sites. After carefully monitoring their logs and analytics they made their big discovery: their core feature was allowing customers to link and embed their photos on other sites. They decided to "make that feature even easier and more intuitive". They started Photobucket based on that one feature. The rest as they say is history.