Steal this strategy: How Elon Musk got 100,000 users in 1 month after the launch of PayPal

When Elon Musk was asked about the successful growth of PayPal, this is what he had to say:

“I didn’t expect PayPal’s growth rate to be what it was. After the first month or so of the website being active, we had 100,000 customers.”

If you haven’t heard of this, why isn’t this legendary growth hack in the marketing hall of fame? Like… really?

The internet was only a baby, but that didn’t stop Elon from reaching out.

Even if social media wasn’t a thing at the time, PayPal reached a market capitalization of $46.6 billion USD back in 2015!

How did they do this?

How is it possible for a company to go from zero to one of the best most used online transaction app in the world with NO paid advertisements?

Signup + refer a friend = $10 on us

By giving $5-$10 to each signing and referrals, it ended up costing PayPal $60 million-plus.

It sounds like a lot, but it got their return of investments (ROI).

What were the results?

  • 7% — 10% DAILY growth.
  • +100 million active users to this day

This was all done through non-paid advertisement, WOW!

Know what your audience would love to have for free!


Obviously, from an online payment system company, this was the way to go Who doesn’t love free money?

But most importantly, it got people to talk about them quickly, and they were willing to take action by referring.

Referral marketing is a fantastic growth strategy, but the main goal is to turn these people into active users.

Giving free value first before offering something is a great way to start, but it’s more important to have a great product.

After making an account, the users went through the process of how PayPal works right away and realized it’s an excellent and useful service.

Note that this may not work for your niche.

Find out what is one thing your audience would love to have for free, so they are willing to take action.

This strategy sounds great and all, but what if I don’t have any money to give?

Take a look!

Notice how Dropbox isn’t using money? This is great for you, and you don’t need money to get people talking.

Four main takeaways to take home

  1. You don’t need money: With the example of dropbox, it shows you don’t need money to get people talking about you.
  2. No need for paid ads: Referral marketing is all done through word of mouth, it shouldn’t cost you anything to make your audience talk about you.
  3. Great product: Word of mouth works great if you have a great product.

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I know a thing or two about tech start-ups, inbound marketing, front-end design & blockchain tech. Tweet me @marcthibs