How did Coin get 5 million YouTube views in 5 days?

The new YC startup Coin has received a huge amount of coverage over the last week. Coin is an electronic credit card that can morph into 8 different cards with the press of a button.

Coin is amongst a handful of startups working on the same solution like and Echo, whose offerings don’t differentiate too much at all.

How did they rack up so much coverage including a who’s who of online media and 5 million YouTube views in 5 days?

Firstly, It’s undeniably cool, and simple enough that even your grandpa can understand the concept. More importantly, it’s mainstream simple, and mainstream cool. It solves a real world problem. Non-tech audiences can relate to the problem and how coin might be their solution. People outside of the tech and startup circles were sharing this on facebook.

When I asked this question to /r/startups, users mentioned:

  • High profile early investors, and utilizing the weight and networking of their investors
  • They planned this whole thing months in advance, getting all their hens in a row, then at launch they unleashed the flood gates
  • It’s a problem everyone can relate to

A similar Quora question names these ideas:

  • It solves a real problem
  • Implied limited Supply
  • Limited time low price
  • Early tastemaker appeal I wouldn’t say any of these points are wrong, but they also aren’t anything special that it’s competitors or other startups aren’t already doing.

They are in Y Combinator, but there are 52 other startups in the same batch as Coin alone.

What else?

  • Front page of Hacker News for quite some time (1320 points, 717 comments)
  • Front page of YouTube

All great, but these are results, not the cause.

I’d say a lot of weight has to go into quality of Coin’s execution. Quality across the website, the explainer video, and the product itself.

The website is extremely well done with a great deisgn. They’ve used HTML5 nicely and is similar to Apple’s site for the iPhone 5s.

Made To Stick

The video is high quality and well executed. In their book “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath, they identify six key qualities to make your idea understandable, memorable, and effective in changing thought or behaviour (make you share). They are: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional, and stories.

Lets check the Coin explainer video against this list:

Simple: The message was clear and very easy to understand with simple language, and leads with the inverted pyramid format – most important fact first through to least important.

Unexpected: Early on in the video he bumps the card up and 3 other cards pop up. This is an unexpected moment and grabs our attention. The following features keep us curious.

Concrete: Showing Coin in real world situations gives context to an abstract concept.

Credible: Credability helps us believe and agree. The speaker doesn’t introduce himself so we don’t know if he is an expert on cards, engineering, or money security. Perhaps the only point lacking in this video.

Emotional: It made people care by appealing to their self-interest. People can immediately see ‘WIIFM’.

Story: Stories as simulation tell people how to act. He simulates all the situations in which the card will benefit you.

5 out of 6 points – this video is a great example of stickiness.

Lastly, the product. The card itself looks high tech and slick. The button and the screen walk a fine line between being discreet and being a noticeable feature. You’d be confident spending your social currency pulling it out of your pocket to show your friends.

No doubt Coin have built a great product, with a great launch campaign. Whilst a lot of healthy debate has emerged about its real life use, only time will tell if it’s actually worth the hype.