Our guest today is Alex Chung, co-founder and CEO of Giphy. You may already be familiar with Giphy: It’s an online search engine like Google, but for animated GIFs. And seeing as how they currently serve 500 million users around the globe every day, chances are you may even be an avid user of the platform.
I really enjoyed talking to Alex and picking his brain, and that’s largely because while Giphy is such an internationally acclaimed tech company, Alex is very down-to-earth. He genuinely thinks of himself as a part of the startup community, and doesn’t shy away from networking with other founders, offering help and advice.
The story of how Giphy grew to where it is now is almost like a textbook example of how to make it in the digital era. The founders saw a gap in the market — more specifically, the fact that the #1 search engine Google hasn’t indexed animated GIFs yet — so they set out to build their own platform to solve the problem, while having fun along the way. They then focused on populating the site with quality content, growing their user base, raising several rounds of funding, building out the revenue systems, and even acquiring a few other startups. And now they are continuing to grow the business, and on a global scale at that.
It’s interesting to note that Giphy isn’t Alex’s first startup. During our chat, he likens building startup companies to making music records. If this one fails, learn from your mistakes, move on, and make another one.
People like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are extremely rare examples of successful first-time founders. For a much more realistic case that involves a lot of trial and error, I think Alex is a great role model.
When I talked to Alex during our remote interview, there was a 12-hour time difference between us. As we were chatting, I couldn’t help but be amazed by how technology was making it possible.
Unlike traditional product prototyping, the cost associated with building digital products these days is virtually negligible. Plus, there are a ton of tools out there to help with the process. Even hardware prototyping is so much more affordable now, thanks to 3D-printing and other cutting-edge technologies.
Do you have a product idea that you think will help make the world a better place? Have you taken the plunge to start building it yet? What’s stopping you from going forward? Nothing, I hope.
Giphy’s website: https://giphy.com/
Our website: https://buildbuilds.com/
Alex’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy’s Twitter: @kathfinder