two lesser-known cofounders: Tristan O’Tierney and Jim McKelvey. In , Dorsey, McKelvey, McKelvey’s wife, Anna, and a friend named Greg Kidd drove north of San Francisco to a restaurant called the Pelican Inn. They spent the evening debating whether they should start a company based on the idea that the world needed an easier
McKelvey – who is a glassblower – recounted the story about the loss of a big sale because he had no means of accepting a credit-card transaction to his friend, Jack Dorsey
way to make payments in person. Tristan O’Tierney was the company’s first iOS engineer, building the first Square iPhone and iPad apps.8 So the team brought together business, software and hardware from Day One. SNAPCHAT.
You meet great friends in university, and that’s where Evan Spiegel met Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown. All three were Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers at Stanford University. While still at university they worked together on an app called Picaboo. Later, Evan and Bobby incorporated a new company, and created a new app under the name Snapchat. Reggie was not part of the new venture. The story sounds rather reminiscent of the Winklevoss twins, who launched ConnectU9 – a social networking site for Harvard students – with technical help from Mark Zuckerberg. Not long afterwards Zuckerberg would launch Facebook without the twins’ involvement. In any case, Bobby Murphy brought a strong engineering background to the table, and now serves as the CTO of Snapchat. Evan, on the other hand, possessed more product-development and business skills and is the CEO. The founders of Flipboard, Evan Doll and Mike McCue, met on
what was essentially a blind date at a coffee shop set up by shared friends. They instantly knew they wanted to build something together, but they weren’t exactly sure what. The company grew out of a thought experiment: what would the Web look like if it were redesigned today and were to focus on presenting content in the best possible way?10 Mike and Evan knew that the product would need to be social – and beautifully designed. Evan was naturally suited to leading the software development (he was a senior iPhone engineer at Apple) and Mike headed up the business side of things (he is a serial entrepreneur – his biggest exit being TellMe Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft for $800 million). The real stories behind our billion-dollar-app cofounders are pretty simple – and often pretty predictable. There is a formula – basically conspiring with people you have either studied or worked with. It’s a combination of a significant amount of time working together and plotting to do something new that will sow the seeds of your company. If that’s not possible, it’s up to you to put yourself in situations where you’re going to expose yourself to the complementary people you need in place to start your company.
We live in a world where our attention is torn in numerous directions simultaneously, and where hundreds of thousands of apps are clamouring for us to hit that download button. Existing, competing and winning in this kind of environment requires great execution on numerous levels – and that starts with having a crisp name, logo and proposition. All these assets will help to elevate you above the noise. Creating a robust name and brand from the very beginning is critical. But it’s damn hard. And it can take quite a bit of time to find something that feels just right. From the onset I would recommend a couple of strategies. First, don’t let the name hold you up from designing your app or even beginning the software development – you can refine the name in parallel. Second, don’t settle for an OK name. A great name is 10 times better than a good name. So invest the time now, because down the line there will be a million reasons why it’s close to impossible to change it.