How GAS app went viral and made $1M in 10 days with a team of 4

A former Facebook manager just launched an app that overtook giants like TikTok & Instagram to be #1 on the App Store.

He made $1M in 10 days with a team of 4 people.

Gas App 🧵

The Wall Street Journal calls it the “Hottest App right now”, after it went viral a week after its launch, mostly among high school teens.

The story is even more impressive as the app was only available to download in 12 states.


Gas is an app through which high school students can give each other compliments, anonymously.

So how did they go viral?

They targeted teenagers by creating Instagram accounts with the high school name included, such as “gas.georgiahigh”.

They made the account private, & then followed every student from these high schools.

These students requested to follow back to see the profile, but they wouldn’t accept anyone.

The good old fashioned ‘velvet rope’ approach.

Then on the launch day, they had guys park outside the schools.

When the end-of-day bell rang they accepted all the requests.

Every student got the same notification at the same time, & started showing each other & talking about it.

The Gas app team changed the bio of these planted accounts to direct the students to download gas, by saying “see who likes you.”

Things escalated so fast, that the app was adding 30,000 users per hour.

Not per DAY.

Not per WEEK.

30,000 users PER HOUR.

Nikita, who built TBH, a similar app that Facebook acquired in 2017, launched Gas with @daveschatz & @IsaiahJTurner in 2022 (after the expiration of the non-compete with Facebook).

They named it after an internet slang “Gas”, which means to “pump someone up” with a compliment.

The Gas app accesses your location so you can select your high school, add your classmates, and see what compliments are being dished out.

BUT, you can’t talk with or message anyone.

Instead, you are served with multiple-choice questions about fellow students with superlative-style answers.

So questions like:
“Who has the best smile?”
“Who will be the best DJ at the party?”
“Who is likely to be a millionaire?”

The answers to the poll questions are the names of their friends from school.

When someone selects a name, they receive flames.

Which are meant to gas them up and boost their self-esteem.

So how are they monetizing?

A user can see WHO answered the poll questions about them by purchasing ‘God Mode,’ which costs $6.99 a week.

That’s $28 a month which is almost double to Netflix’s standard subscription plan (!!)

All these things made the app go viral & become #1 on the app store.

Nikita broke the news on Twitter in classic style:

The app tapped into teenage psychology incredibly well and began getting praised all over social media:

But start-ups are NEVER all rainbows and unicorns…

After a few days, accusations that the app was involved in Human Trafficking began to surface.

Stories from teens on TikTok & Snapchat began coming out with claims that people were using the app to kidnap minors.

Police departments, local TV news, and school district officials began issuing statements encouraging parents to NOT allow their children to use the app.

Gas’ social channels were spammed day & night by folks claiming the app was a tool for trafficking and the company’s revenue PLUMMETED.

Google search was filled with news articles about “Gas app kidnapping” and “Gas app sex trafficking”.

Nikita confronted the problem head on, and spun up an internal task force.

He announced they had been targeted by two DoS attacks, with many IPs originating from China.

The big question I have…

Could it have been TikTok???

After all of this, the rumors turned out to be largely false and were manufactured to taint the company’s image.

Gas App continues to grow at a rapid clip.

Nikita just said yesterday that 1/3 of American teens have downloaded the app!

The Gas App is an incredible case study in:

>Achieving virality
>Fighting through the tough times to build a great business

Excited to see what Nikita and team continue to do with the Gas App!

Thanks for reading. If you’ve learned something, retweet the first tweet so others can too.

Follow @lukesophinos where I share my learnings from founding, operating, investing, and advising software companies

Follow: @lukesophinos


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