When 21 year old Stanford University student Evan Spiegel stood up in a Stanford product design class in April 2011 to present an idea for his final project, it was derided by his classmates as a 'terrible idea'.
It was a mobile phone app designed to allow 'self destructing' pictures that would disappear, without a trace, after a few seconds.
Today, Spiegel has hit 22, and Snapchat is being used to send 50 million messages a day, while battling with Facebook, which launched a similar app called 'Poke'.
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Snapchat has become a huge success, with over 50m pictures a day being sent. The firm is even fending off Facebook, who's Poke app has similar features.
Bobby Murphy, 24, and Evan Spiegel, 22, the co-founders of Snapchat - which is holding its own against Facebook
HOW IT WORKS
Snapchat users open a special app to create their messages.
They choose recipients from a list of friends, and can specify the lifespan of their picture and video messages - but once opened none can last longer than 10 seconds within the app.
Special effects and even text can also be added.
'Everyone said, ‘That is a terrible idea,’' Spiegel said.
'Not only is nobody going to use it, they said, but the only people who do, will use it for sexting,' he claimed.
Today, he is locked in a battle with Facebook with Snapchat, his app - which is now used more than 50 million times a day.
He founded Snapchat with fellow student Bobby Murphy, and employed two other students, Daniel Smith and David Kravitz, and the core of the firm.
The team is headquartered in Los Angeles in Evan Spiegel’s father’s house, where it will stay for the 'foreseeable future,' although the firm is believed to be courting several Silicon Valley investors for a large round of funding.
'It’s not all about fancy vacations, sushi dinners, or beautiful sunsets,' the team say about their product.
'Sometimes it’s an inside joke, a silly face, or greetings from a pet fish,' Snapchat’s founders wrote in September.
'Great conversations are magical.
'That’s because they are shared, enjoyed but not saved.”
It the months since Snapchat's launch it has become a huge success, with over 50 million messages a day sent, up from 20m in October, when it passed the 1bn total.
It has also attracted the attention of Facebook, leading to one of the most closely watched technological battle of the year, as Facebook's new 'Poke' app takes on Snapchat for the title of the internet's top 'sexting' app.
The team regularly post pictures to their blog made using the app, such as this one celebrating co-founder Bobby Murphy's 24th birthday.
Facebook Poke, released before Christmas, was the social-network’s attempt to jump on the popularity of the apps that delete their messages automatically, which have led to many dubbing it a ‘sexting’ inappropriate material.
Despite being hit almost immediately with a privacy snafu when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's sister complained over a snap of the family trying out the app, Poke has done well, shooting to the top of the download charts.
Snapchat's team celebrating the first birthday of the app
However, Facebook’s Poke has rapidly fallen down app popularity charts, despite a major PR effort, which revealed that founder Mark Zuckerberg had written code for the app himself and that it has been created in just days by a small team of engineers.
Snapchat, however, has retained its near the top of the charts for the Android and iOS versions of its app.
Even news that easily available tools allowed iPhone users to save Snapchat videos, has failed to dent the rise of the app.
Snapchat has risen to notoriety over the past year with many commentators accusing the service of promoting irresponsible sexual behaviour among teenagers.
Launched in September 2011, it was reportedly inspired by the the humiliation of New York politician Anthony Weiner, who was caught sending explicit pictures of himself to a woman online.
However, Mr Spiegel has denied that his social media tool could promote sexting among youngsters.
'I’m not convinced that the whole sexting thing is as big as the media makes it out to be,' he said.
'I just don’t know people who do that. It doesn’t seem that fun when you can have real sex.'
Nevertheless, he has told BuzzFeed that the Snapchat team is 'trying to do a better job educating our users and their parents,' and that he was looking to add more guidance materials to their website.