Business English podcast 8: Dropbox and entrepreneurship

by Lynch A.K.A 'The Regulator' on August 5, 2012

Short bio of Dropbox founder
Podcast from Dropbox founder, Drew Houston
Get Dropbox
Wiki English
Wiki Spanish
Great article on Dropbox rejecting Setve Jobs offer.

This is a fantastic ESL listening exercise and an interesting business English podcast on the history of Dropbox. The original audio can be downloaded from the Stanford university website.

Most of the worlds’ great businesses start with a problem and the founder of that business formulating a soloution to that problem. In this podcast from the Stanford entrepreneurship program we hear from Drew Houston all about the problem that lead him to start up Dropbox: dependence on flash drives, mailing yourself files and other types of file saving and transportantion problems. After forgetting his flash drive one day, Drew suddenely started to write code and design a service that would allow you access to your files from multiple computers. Dropbox was born.

Interesting as that all is however, we always have an agenda in this school for every audio and business English podcast we download and that’s – what can we learn from it?

Despite promising at the beginning of the podcast that he’s going to tell us what he wished he’d known when he started up he doesn’t really do that.

Instead he tells a number of interesting and amusing anecdotes which, if you’re on the ball, you can extract lessons from.

The founder of Dropbox - Drew Houston - talks in this podcast about the founding and growth of Dropbox.

Personally, I very much related to his tales of disasters with Adwords. My God, if you don’t know what you’re doing with adwords you can end up throwing money away. He tells a story of spending 500 euros on adwords to get a 100 euros worth of business. But that wasn’t the main lesson we can learn.

What we need to note is the effect that a semmingly silly video can have. Drew uploded a very simple video of him explaining dropbox and a vaguely funny menu and overnight their beta waiting list went from 5000 to 75000.

Another obvious but fundamental lesson you can learn is the importance of bringing customers in off the street to use your product, observe them using it, and then make the necessary changes. In this podcast Drew tells a great story of early tests they did where users had to rate the usability of Dropbox from zero to five and every single one gave it a zero.

Now, imagine your average person recieving that news – that your product is rubbish – almost everyone would throw in the towell. But not the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur starts trying to undertsand the usability problems one by one and starts ticking them off.

Well, whatever this audio lacks in public speaking skills and solid business advice it makes up for in overall appeal. At the end of the day it tells a great story of a young man with an idea taking on the world. That is inspiring and inspiration is worth a hundred lessons in business strategy, and we think you’ll be able to produce an interesting ESL liatening exercise from it.

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