A few days ago, Venture Beat published an exciting article touting TabTale’s success in marketing itself to children and families with a powerful offering of mobile apps. These apps, designed to comply with all of the international regulations governing minors’ use of apps, bring family-friendly apps to the masses. The secret to their success?

Read below if you’re interested in learning how a small company in Tel-Aviv managed to reach 1 billion family-friendly app downloads, with 40 million monthly active users engaging with over 350 games and apps in just four years.

1. Free to Play is Incredibly Profitable

As a scrappy start-up, gaining market-share requires minimizing the barriers to entry for consumers interested in your product or service; this is business 101. It’s a pretty simple concept to grasp: users will more quickly try out a free app before paying for an app that is totally new to them.That’s why virtually every app in TabTale’s catalogue is free (at least at first).

Once the user gains some familiarity with the app’s features, it’s easy to sell in-game enhancements and a premium version that removes advertising. But, if the consumer still wants to play for free, there’s plenty of opportunity for the developer to still earn a return-on-investment through in-app advertising from partners.

Takeaway: Shift as much of the cost as possible from customers to partners and sponsors in the early stages. Then, once a customer gains confidence in the product, offer them enhancements that improve their experience. The advertising revenue will generate income at every stage, while the in-app purchases can become the instant ROI that investors demand. Note: This applies to both apps and web-based services.

2. Focus within Categories and Market Segments

If you want to build a massive gaming company, you need to start by accepting the fact that the market is incredibly diverse. There are more than 2 billion smartphones floating around the world. There are thousands of niche-audiences within that gargantuan market. Some are based on culture, others on personal interests and passions.

To reach a billion downloads, you have to create a group of teams and focus their energies on specific markets on a global scale. Or, as TabTale’s CEO, Sagi Schliesser puts it, “When TabTale was created, part of our vision was to create a global company which does not have ‘one voice’ and taste, but rather a fusion of different cultures and talents…”

The result of his team’s efforts to cater to a variety of interests meant creating more than 300 games in four years. Yeah, that’s a lot of apps targeted at virtually every type of consumer in their space.

Takeaway: Budget your resources to allow your team to diversify the company’s efforts and cater to the unique needs of the larger market, without losing focus on individual customer satisfaction. This not only reduces risk per project, but allows for each follow-up project to build off of the foundation laid by previous and concurrent product offerings.

3. Start-Up in a VC-Rich Environment

Forbes reported in 2013 that “…Israel has, per person, attracted over twice as much venture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe…” That’s some serious investment activity. Can you guess where TabTale is based? Yep, Israel.

Raising capital was, of course, made easier with the fact that their CEO and Founder had a history of success at tech companies like HP Software and Sapiens. Plus, during his mandatory service in the Israeli Defense Forces he honed his technical abilities in a variety of challenging circumstances. Schliesser’s LinkedIn profile speaks for itself.

Combining a target-rich environment with an incredible resume that includes prior start-up success is a great way to gain access to the resources a start-up needs to hit the ground running.

Takeaway: If possible, start-up in an environment that is conducive to start-ups. Eat, live and breathe the start-up lifestyle by bringing together a killer team and working in an environment full of others tackling the same challenges. Winners surround themselves with winners; what your team sees and feels when they leave the office will become the energy that they bring to their work.

If you want to create an incredible business that goes from 0 to 1 billion user interactions in four short years, remember this phrase: success leaves clues. From retailers like Amazon to app developers like Tabtale, there are opportunities to observe histories and take their experiences to your own work. Will your start-up apply these 3 keys to success, or will you be stuck learning by repeating the mistakes others have made?