To consummate a whirlwind weekend of Y Combinator-organized Startup School Martin and I headed over to the Dropbox office during Open House to personally congratulate Drew Houston on the company’s success and learn from the founder himself about his experience in building a startup.
We were blown away not only by the graciousness of the staff but the humility of the founder who had built an organization with a valuation of $4 billion. Since visiting the smaller Dropbox office two years ago we were pleased to see that the spirit and culture of the startup had not changed despite its growth and success. Upon entering the office on the 11th floor, we noticed the familiar glass-enclosed meeting room furnished with a large wooden conference table, chairs, a white piano, an awesome drum set, and guitars brought alive through jam sessions every Friday. We didn’t see any enclosed personal offices or cubicles. The engineering floor was a wide-open field of desks and monitors to foster an environment of honesty, creativity, and collaboration. Rather than beer and red plastic cups two years ago at their evening after party, Dropbox upgraded to providing their visitors with a diverse spread of specialty sandwiches, roasted vegetables with gourmet red sauce, fresh fruit, cheeses, pastries, and luxurious libations including teas, sodas, liqueurs, juices, and fruit-infused water. Dropbox’s fun, hard-working, and all around nice-person culture hadn’t changed much. They just got bigger and fancier.
We located Drew seated at a small roundtable in the kitchen surrounded by other visitors. We popped by to congratulate him on the company’s success and joined the fireside chat. The following are main points we gleaned from his experience in building Dropbox:
- Personally commit to your customers and investors
- Provide a solution to a problem people are experiencing
- Surround yourself with supportive, like-minded people
- Dropbox hires the best engineers from the top schools, who love what they do, and are nice guys to work with
- As the company grew bigger, Drew needed to focus more on “people stuff”
- Go to amazon.com and buy the top three rated books and “learn a little bit about a lot” on sales, marketing, finance, accounting, product design, psychology (influence and negotiation), organizational design, management and leadership, and business strategy
Dropbox is growing fast and looking for fun and hard working engineers, regardless of visa status. If you’re looking for a cool opportunity with a great organization led by a likeable and personable CEO, look no further and inquire now at http://dropbox.com/jobs!
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