Drew Houston was feeling good. He’d just raised capital from Sequoia for his file syncing company Dropbox. But soon afterward he realized he had a company to build.
So what do you do after you finally raise that elusive first round of funding? During PandoMonthly in San Franscico, Houston shared his experience and advice for a company taking off, from opening a bank account to holding the first board meeting.
Houston remembers it vividly, sitting in the North Beach Bank of America in a hoodie and flip-flops. “Is there, like, a limit to how much a bank account can hold?” he asked the bank attendant. “No.”
“Can it hold, like, a million dollars?”
“Yeah…” the attendant answered.
“No further questions.”
He recalled looking at his bank account afterward, which previously had $60 in it. “And now it had a million and sixty dollars in it,” he said, laughing.
But all this was like Christmas morning compared to the challenge ahead of running his first board meeting. For Houston, it was all about striking a balance between looking and being prepared in front of your investors and being open to soaking up their input. “You shouldn’t be ashamed if you don’t know all the answers. They are there to help you,” he says.
Still, Houston said a founder needs to assert a sense of leadership in a meeting. “If your VCs are running the company, you’re doing it wrong,” he said. “They’re not your babysitters,” he continued.
It’s also important to convey that you have a vision, and have a plan to execute it. “Our goal in the early days was to establish a track record that we knew what we were doing, and to show that if we said we were going to do something we were going to do it,” he said. And once you get into a groove, the company shouldn’t meander, Houston said. “Part of the role for you as CEO or founder is to stop and say, ‘Where are we going to be in the next one or three months?’ And then next month, you look. Are we there?”