First off if you’re not listening to the 500 startups weekly podcast you’re doing it wrong. Each week 500 Startups Resident Marketing Manager and Baker, Mark Saldana sits down with 500 startups founders, mentors, investors and others in their network for a 1:1 look at the important things about starting up.
In episode 22 Saldana sits down with Ryan Damico the CEO and co-founder of Crocodoc and now the Director of Platform at Box.
Damico reveals some great stuff in the 45 minute podcast. The first revealing thing is that even if you’re down and out your startup may still have a chance at top accelerators like Y-Combinator. “In the beginning we were crashing and burning… we had to fire our first employee…” right before the company was accepted into YC.
He says that YC saw that the Crocodoc team,which was still called WebNotes at the time, a consumer facing product, were working their asses off, all full time, completely committed and stubborn. All the while they had a goal, which was to build the world’s best online document viewer. YC saw that goal and helped them reach it.
In fact, right after they came out of YC and started pivoting towards Crocodoc, they started catching the attention of companies like Yammer, who didn’t care about their consumer facing product, they just wanted to implement their document viewer into their web and mobile apps.
Later in the podcast Damico talks about having a mutual friendship with Box co-founder Dylan Smith. It was through Dylan that Damico became friends with Box founder Aaron Levie. The two met over McDonald’s (which most folks in the startup world know is Levi’s favorite) and eventually talks of acquisition started.
That prompted Saldana to ask for tips for entrepreneurs who want to get acquired. Damico’s answer was to basically put acquisition out of your mind.
In the beginning of WebNotes he and his cofounders thought that acquisition was the end-game. “our business model was we’ll get acquired,we weren’t doing anything great, that’s a terrible way to think about this” he told Saldana.
Right around the same time they got into YC a light bulb went off that changed the course of the company. “We want to make this the most amazing company we ever want to work for. As soon as we said that the whole company turned around and got our heads screwed on straight. We got laser focused on the one thing we could do better than anyone else in the world.” Damico said.
Of course it was then that true acquisition talks began.
Today Crocodoc is part of Box and they are providing “the best content viewing experience in the world, on Box and your app”.
So there you have it, build the best company you can and the end game will come naturally.
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