“450, 32, 1, 0…”

These numbers are a type of “secret code.” They were highlighted by Sequoia (hedge fund) partner Jim Goetz. He was describing the secrets to success for another high-profile startup darling: WhatsApp. WhatsApp created a $0.99 simple mobile text messaging replacement app. It’s like Skype for text messaging… letting you text with anyone else worldwide without paying your wireless provider’s expensive rates. It’s surged to over 550 million users in just over four years. Social media giant Facebook bought out the company for $19 billion in February.

Here’s what the numbers refer to:

•  WhatsApp had 450 million users at the time of its acquisition
•  It hired only 32 engineers to grow that fast
•  It charged only $1 per year to use its service
•  It spent $0 per year on marketing.

The last item may be the most telling. In the age of “virality,” WhatsApp’s founders achieved success by focusing 100% on their users’ experience. The founders wanted “no ads, no games, no gimmicks”… just a simple, 100% reliable way for people to connect with others. WhatsApp grew by developing an incredible product users want to share with everyone they know. They provided extraordinary value to their clients.

If you want to develop your own successful startup business (or succeed at anything else in life), this must always be your No. 1 goal: Provide extraordinary value to others. You can read more about WhatsApp’s “secret code,” for free, right here.