Published May 25, 2011
On the way to meet the co-founders of Greplin at their offices in San Francisco, I couldn’t find their contact information to confirm their address. I looked on my BlackBerry, in my personal e-mail, on my personal phone and in my work e-mail account. Finally I found it, but not before realizing these Greplin guys might really be on to something in this increasingly gadget-driven world.
Greplin is a search engine that lets you search your online world for anything by keyword or phrase. But instead of having to go to each account – whether it’s Gmail, Facebook or LinkedIn—looking for where the information could be stored, Greplin sifts through all of your different accounts at once, ostensibly saving you a lot of time.
Eighteen-year-old Daniel Gross and 27-year-old Robby Walker are the faces behind the company they’ve coined “the search bar for your life.”
Israeli-born Gross was in Israel when he thought of the idea after not being able to find directions to a party.
“I realized there were about four different locations to where the directions might actually be. They could be in a place where people put in my Google calendar. They could be something that someone sent in an email. Maybe it’s an event on Evite or one of those services,” he said. “And I realized I don’t have a search box where I can just put in ‘party tonight’ and get the results from all the different websites that I have information in.”
So far, the company has already secured more than $4 million from big-time investors, including Bret Taylor, the CTO of Facebook and Paul Buchheit, the mastermind behind Gmail.
Walker, who started college classes at age nine and got his Ph.D at 23, has already built a successful startup that Google acquired in 2007. He said Greplin’s universal appeal is what has him so excited this time around.
“When I was doing online presentation software my Mom tried it just to be nice and was like, ‘Oh that’s neat.’ When she heard about Greplin, she immediately asked, ‘When can I have an account?’ because she wants to find her e-mails or things she said on Facebook,” he said. “And so I think it’s something everyone can use and that’s incredibly exciting.”
For more on Gross and Walker’s back story and why Gross sought out a co-founder in the first place watch the segment.
Six Shooter with Daniel Gross and Robby Walker
1. What is the best and worst thing about building a startup?
Gross: The best thing - you get to build things that people want at an incredibly fast pace. The product improves every day. That's the core reason why I think both of us wanted to do a startup.
The worst thing has been the many difficult "no’s” we've said to job applicants. We've been incredibly selective when building our team and that has undoubtedly meant we've said no to some great people.
2. Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
Gross: Steve Jobs. Specifically, his second term at Apple. He managed to transform a company without a vision in to the second-largest corporation on the planet by making products that massively improve people's lives.
3. What is your favorite quote and why?
Walker: Paul Graham - the YCombinator motto - "make something people want"; it's ingrained to the very core of every decision we make because it is the most important thing a company can do.
4. What do you wish you had more of: time or money?
Walker: Time: There are a million amazing things we want to build and we wish more of them were already done.
5. Why will Greplin succeed?
Walker: I think we'll succeed because Greplin solves a problem we have in our own lives- "what's Tim's phone number?" "What time is my flight?" "Where is that party on Friday?" There's nothing that we want more than to use Greplin, and we'll stop at nothing to make the perfect version of it.
6. Robby, why will Daniel Gross succeed?
Daniel is incredibly motivated - there were a hundred opportunities to give up at various points in Greplin's history and he never did. At one point he didn't even have enough money to make rent - but he managed to get Greplin's first investment right on time. I believe his perseverance coupled with an amazing sense for what matters in the product and the company will make him incredibly successful.
Daniel, why will Robby Walker succeed?
Robby has an uncanny ability to solve extremely complex problems with brilliant and elegant solutions. We've struggled with plenty of difficult product and infrastructure decisions. Time after time Robby has the ability to see through the problem to the best possible answer way before anyone else in the team does. It's an extremely rare attribute that I deeply respect and I think it has and will continue to define his success.
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