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Use a Referral Program To Get 1 Million Users On The Waitlist To Try Your App Even Before Launch.

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

Sounds impossible, right? How can a referral program get 1 million users waiting to try your app even before launch?

Acquiring users for an app is hard, but it’s even harder when the app doesn’t exist yet. This is the story of Robinhood, a US-based commission-free stock trading and investment app which is now valued at $11.7 billion.

As of today, the app is used by 13mn+ users across multiple countries. It was founded in 2013 with the aim to democratize finance for all.

The founding story

Before starting Robinhood, the founders were running an enterprise startup that used to sell trading software to hedge funds. During this time, they realized that the big Wallstreet firms pay nothing to trade stocks, while most Americans were charged hefty commissions for every trade.

This compelled them to do something about it and that’s how the idea of the Robinhood app was born.

In every country, anything related to stocks or investments requires a lot of regulatory approvals and they can eat up a lot of time. The founders needed to test the market, so they decided to go ahead with a pre-launch campaign similar to Mailbox.

Mailbox Pre-launch waitlist campaign

Mailbox after its launch was rolling out access to users gradually to ensure that the service works seamlessly for everyone. The difference with Mailbox’s waitlist was that you had to download the app to get on the waitlist and not the other way round.

Keeping it Super Simple

Robinhood founders chose to create a simple website that had a description in very simple language saying “Robinhood $0 commission stock trading Stop paying up to $10 every trade”, an email input box, and a CTA button — “Get Early Access”

Robinhood Waitlist landing page

Unlike Mailbox, you didn’t have to download an app just to get on the waitlist. I really liked their super simple landing page. It immediately tells the value proposition of their service and compels me to take action by just giving an email address.