Drew Houston: Finding Your Way as an Entrepreneur [Entire Talk] | Summary and Q&A

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June 18, 2012
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Stanford eCorner
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Drew Houston: Finding Your Way as an Entrepreneur [Entire Talk]

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Summary

Drew Houston, the co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, shares his journey and insights in this video. He talks about the early days of Dropbox and how they got started, the mistakes they made and how they overcame competition. He emphasizes the importance of hiring the best engineers and having a deep passion for the product. He also discusses the key factors in making good business decisions and the investment process with Sequoia Capital.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the journey of Dropbox start?

Drew Houston shares that the turning point in his entrepreneurial adventure was attending a startup school event several years ago. He talks about the early days of Dropbox and how they started with a small team and big ambitions.

Q: What lessons can be drawn from the early days of Dropbox?

Drew Houston believes that it is important to demystify the startup process and share the lessons he learned along the way. He talks about the challenges of starting a company and the importance of not waiting for the "perfect time" to start.

Q: How did Drew Houston decide to start a company?

Drew Houston shares his thought process in deciding to start a company. He talks about his love for technology and the desire to create something with a strong technical core. He also emphasizes the importance of finding a problem that can be explained to everyday people.

Q: How did Drew Houston and his co-founder meet?

Drew Houston met his co-founder, Arash, through a mutual friend. They had a meeting at the MIT Student Center and realized they had complementary skills and a great relationship. Drew emphasizes the importance of choosing the right co-founder.

Q: How did Dropbox gain early traction and solve the distribution problem?

Drew Houston shares that they initially tried traditional marketing methods such as PR and advertising, but they didn't see good results. They then tried a more guerilla approach by creating a video and putting it on Digg, which generated a lot of interest and led to a significant increase in their beta waiting list.

Q: How did Dropbox fend off competition from Google Drive and SkyDrive?

Drew Houston believes that competition is not the main concern for companies. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on maximizing user satisfaction and solving problems that people don't even know they have. He also talks about the power of referrals and the value of building a strong user base.

Q: How does Drew Houston make good business decisions?

Drew Houston discusses the complexity of making good business decisions. He emphasizes the importance of prioritizing and thinking about getting the best people, building a great product, and making users happy. He also highlights the value of researching how other successful companies operate.

Q: How was the investment process with Sequoia Capital for Dropbox?

Drew Houston acknowledges that the investment process can be complicated, but it is mainly about having traction and proving the potential of the business. He recommends focusing on getting the product and user base right and not worrying too much about negotiation tactics.

Takeaways

Drew Houston's journey with Dropbox teaches us several important lessons. Firstly, starting a company requires taking risks and not waiting for the "perfect time". Secondly, hiring the best engineers and having a deep passion for the product are key to success. Thirdly, focusing on maximizing user satisfaction and solving problems people don't even know they have is more important than worrying about competition. Lastly, making good business decisions involves prioritizing and researching different perspectives, as well as hiring talented individuals.

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