Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, a search engine regarded for its compelling privacy and user experience (more instant answers, less spam/clutter/ads and great privacy).
Try employing a unique hiring process called inbound hiring. Every member of the DuckDuckGo team was a user who reached out to us to help in some capacity. We encourage everyone who’s interested in joining our team to first contribute on our open source side. Constructing a team from volunteer contributors who are mutually passionate about your goals, while at the same time being familiar with your team and processes, has become one of our strongest processes to date.
My first startup (right out of school) failed. Then I worked for a year and decided I wanted to give it a serious try as a career path. I promptly quit and started consulting strictly 4-hr a day so I could work on my startup ideas the bulk of the time.
I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur. This was my third to tenth company depending on how you count. So I learned a bit before doing this one, thankfully. I didn’t set out to build a search engine, but instead to work on a number of projects I found interesting. After doing that for about a year I saw a path to a better search experience involving less spam and more instant answers, and just decided to build an MVP (minimum viable product) of it and see what happened.
I’ve learned a lot from raising venture capital.
Here are a few of the big ones:
- Find the exact right partner fit
- It clicks or it doesn’t
- Best price needs multiple bidders (as with anything)
- Need to hit a lot of people
- Warm intros are better than cold (obvious but true)
We acquired our very first few customers by posting this to Hacker News (Startup News at the time).
Constructing a search experience that is both similar enough to what people are used to so people can switch to it easily but differentiated enough that people have a compelling reason to switch to it was our biggest barrier. We’ve tried to focus on things the big guys can’t do easily for various reasons (usually not technical) including real privacy, broader instant answers, and less spam/clutter/ads.
I’ve had my share of failures. I don’t think there is any silver bullet, but the major things I’ve tried to do are:
- Do things in the context of a startup career path (long-term thinking). More
- Try to find open space. More
- Stay around long enough that the timing is eventually right.
- Choose an ambitions idea. More
- Devote half time to traction. More
- Stay on the critical path. More
- Focus that path on moving the needle. More
Looking back I would have talked to more people, earlier, that had failed at what I was trying to do.
Putting up this billboard was one of the craziest/coolest things we have done.