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Drew Houston talks about starting and growing Dropbox [Audio]

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 30, 2013 04:45 PM

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Sharing some audio from a talk that Dropbox founder Drew Houston gave at MIT last month. It was organized by the Dorm Room Fund, a new student-run venture capital entity in Boston. Houston, who graduated from MIT and gave the commencement address there earlier this year, was interviewed by Phin Barnes, a partner at First Round Capital who oversees Dorm Room Fund.

A couple highlights:

On finding a co-founder: "It was actually kind of a nightmare."

On how successful tech companies are built: "There's actually not a lot of magic. It's a lot of iteratively trying to make reasonable decisions, and get the smartest people you can around you."

On the perennial debate about the best place to start a tech company: "You come to your own verdict. Obviously, there are good companies started all over the world, like Groupon in Chicago. ...Visiting and now living in the Bay Area was a really eye-opening experience. There's so much of an ecosystem, so much institutional knowledge of how to take a couple scruffy undergrads and shepherd them along to creating a billion-dollar company. That's just unmatched anywhere in the world."

On what's next for Dropbox: "We're trying to build the home for your important stuff," and also reach one billion users.

Some of the other questions and topics Houston covers...

•  How he found mentors and a co-founder
• His experiences at Bit9, a Waltham security company, and the support executives there provided as he was starting Dropbox
• Why he built a bot to play online poker with his own money
• Unexpected roadblocks
• His unscheduled visit to see Paul Graham, founder of the Y Combinator accelerator program
• The original YouTube video he made to demo Dropbox, and try to get accepted to Y Combinator
• How a student should evaluate a startup if he or she is applying for a job or internship
• Reading books on sales, marketing, and finance on the roof of his MIT fraternity house
• What's next for Dropbox

The audio is a little on the quiet side... you may find it helpful to listen with headphones.

More: I was at the Y Combinator Demo Day in 2007 when Dropbox first pitched local investors...and I wrote about the company's early days last August.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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