To celebrate the rebrand to Small School, we have a special for you (only June 11-14, 2024) →

Marketing & Launching

October 6, 2022

How Figma Builds in Public to Their $20 Billion Exit

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

Last week, I was running a 200+ people bootcamp. Someone asked me:

"Kevon, how do I pre-sell a course with high demand, and sell the complete course with even more sales?"

Amazing question! I'd love to share more with you here.

But first, let's look at what happen when most people launch and sell their products.

Most launches do not have momentum

Most would say: "Crickets! Not many are interested in my product (only 9 replies and 6 likes). The idea doesn't have potential. Let me come up with a new idea and try again later."

Has this ever happened to you?

Ouch - but the problem is actually not on the idea.

90% of the time it is the weak execution - not enough momentum is built to create a buzzing launch.

And this can be bad since you put in so much time to work on the product:

  1. You don't even know if people want this product
  2. People get confused because this is the 1st time they hear about your product
  3. People are judgemental. When they see a weak launch, they assume a bad product

This is definitely not what you want, right? So what should you do about it?

Did you hear that Figma, our beloved design tool, was acquired by Adobe for $20 billion about a month ago?

From the Verge

Yes, $20 billion! Mindblowing...

I personally use Figma a lot and I love it.

Figma was founded in 2012 and when I think about their growth strategy, I remember a few months ago First Round Review did an interview on Figma's story. I'll extract 3 key points for you here so you don't have to read the long article.

The secret? They focus relentlessly on building with their community:

1. People might not want your product? Build with your community so they MUST want it

The Figma team didn't try to sell at first. All they wanted was to "take feedback from the community to heart".

Figma builds with the community

This is the only way to make sure your product is in huge demand. On one hand, when the community is invested in your process, they want to see you succeed so they want to help spread the word.

On the other hand, you're building it for them, how can they say no?

This is how you build with your community even if your product is a template, a guide, a book, or a course. It doesn't have to be a SaaS.

2. People confused about your launch? WARM them up strategically

A lot of people either see the launch as a starting line or a finish line.

Starting line = You only start marketing it on that day. BOMB 💣

Finish line = You feel like you can finally take a break. BOMB 💣

You're putting too much pressure on one single event.

Figma team doesn't rely on launch momentum only

The Figma team warmed up the design community long before they had their launch day. They didn't expect anything to go viral. They were simply planting the seeds into the community's head.

When they launched, people are ready!

3. People judge your weak launch? Engineer the BUZZ

Pause for a second here.

Can you think of the top 3 things you would do to launch your product? Let me give you some space here:




Okay, good!

Now if your product is a pizza shop. Did you think about how you could create a LOOOOOOOOONG line on the opening day?

If not, it is okay. But it is time to change.

How do restaurants engineer a long line? Well:

  1. They have less table/seats
  2. They don't use a queuing app, forcing people to line up physically
  3. They don't rush to kick out customers who are dining

That's right - many things you can do behind the scenes.

With a huge line outside, even the people who are looking for Japanese food decide to line up to try this "best pizza in town". For your online products, you want to do the same to engineer the buzz.

Then with all the attention, you'll make sales and you'll stay in touch with more people - growing your community.

Figma team leverages the launch momentum

The Figma team took advantage of the launch momentum and used content to continue to show up. As more designers faced frustration with their existing tools, they signed up to Figma and gave it a try ... and got hooked.

How did Figma become such a successful product?

Again, they build in public with their growing community.

And if you look at the Momentum Marketing framework I teach at Build in Public Mastery, you can see that Figma has been executing brilliantly at each stage.

Can you do the same?

Likely not at the same scale because Figma has a team of people. But you can definitely do enough to grow your business.

We have an upcoming cohort of Build in Public Mastery starting on Oct 17, 2022, there are a few seats left before we close door on Oct 11.

If your goal in 2023 is to build up your digital income streams, you can consider taking 1 of the final seats. With 1 successful launch, you already make this cohort worthwhile.

👉 Last chance to enroll in Build in Public Mastery

Newsletter Signature Divider
Newsletter Signature Divider
Newsletter Signature Divider
Table of Contents

Build in Public Guide

This free guide has been downloaded over 30,000 times. In 8 short chapters, you’ll learn how to leverage this modern marketing strategy in growing your business and audience in parallel.

Download the Guide

Build in Public Guide

This free guide has been downloaded over 30,000 times. In 8 short chapters, you’ll learn how to leverage this modern marketing strategy in growing your business and audience in parallel.

Download the Guide