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Drew Houston

Drew Houston

Founder & CEO at Dropbox

buildd tags

Quit job to start Does code

Quick stats

$1.8B Net wealth 38 Yrs Age 2007 Year of founding

Career

2004-2007 Founder, Accolade 2006-2007 Software Engineer, Bit9, Inc. 2007-Present Founder, CEO, Dropbox

Education

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Spark

Houston credits the inception of the idea for Dropbox to the time when he left his thumb drive behind while on a bus. Frustrated, he set about finding a solution for it, by writing down code with no idea of what he was going to build.‍

The MVP

He had a tough time explaining to investors the concept of Dropbox without an MVP. Which, given the tech-heavy nature of Dropbox, would have required years to develop. Houston then had the brilliant idea of creating a video - the video was a simple 3-min demonstration of the technology as it was meant to work. He targeted it at a community of tech-savvy early adopters. When he applied for Y Combinator, he got rejected by Paul Graham due to the lack of a Co-Founder. "Paul wanted Co-Founders...because it's kind of a an emotional roller-coaster, and so having a partner makes it so you can offset each other's...ups and downs, which I've certainly found to be true", he says.‍

The Build

Luckily, Houston found his co-founder at MIT - Arash Ferdowski, who reached out to him after watching the MVP video. After a 2-hour conversation, Ferdowski agreed to drop out of MIT to work with him. Together, they successfully entered Y Combinator and met their first investor - Sequoia Capital, who agreed to invest $1.2 million. Building the product took some time, since, in Houston's words, "it's a product you really have to get right". Dropbox publicly launched in 2008, and got to a hundred thousand users very fast owing to some great marketing tactics like viral demonstration videos and referral programs.

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