Drew Houston came up with the idea for Dropbox on a bus.
About 10 years later, the file-sharing service has more than 500 million users, generates $1 billion-plus in annualized revenue, and was valued at about $10 billion in 2014.
“It was really out of personal frustration,” the founder and CEO told Business Insider US editor in chief Alyson Shontell on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It.” “I kept carrying a thumb drive around and emailing myself files and all the things that we used to have to do.”
“The proverbial story is: I was going from Boston to New York on the Chinatown bus, forgot my thumb drive, and I was so frustrated — really with myself, because this kept happening. And I’m like, my God, I never want to have this problem again. And I opened up the editor and started writing some code. I had no idea what it would become. But those were the beginnings.”
Dropbox later gained steam through Y Combinator, the high-profile startup-accelerator program cofounded by Silicon Valley legend Paul Graham. But in fact, Houston told Shontell, it wasn’t Dropbox he used to apply to the accelerator for its first round in 2005 – it was an SAT-prep company Houston had started in high school, which Y Combinator rejected.
He came back later with the idea for Dropbox, and along with cofounder Arash Ferdowsi, ended up raising the company’s first million in 2007.