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Box founder Aaron Levie’s 5 lessons for startup founders

Lesson 1: Do something that wasn’t possible 3 years ago.

“If you’re looking at a business opportunity that you could have done 5 or 10 years ago, it might be too late, or it might not be different enough to make a lot of people care. And that’s ultimately what it takes to scale. So look for new technologies that are enabling your solution. Box wasn’t possible in 2000. The enabling technology was cheaper storage, better browsers, more connected devices, faster internet.”

Lesson 2: Do something you’re extremely passionate about.

“Startups are very hard. There’s a lot of bad news that happens every single day. Bad things in the competitive space. Bad things with hiring. And you have to be able to push through. So you have to do something that’s actually really exciting, and that you’re going to be inspired about.”

Lesson 3: Don’t compromise.

“One of the coolest things about starting your own company is you get to make a lot of decisions. You don’t actually have to compromise or sacrifice on a lot of things. You don’t have to sacrifice on who you work with. You don’t have to compromise on how you’re going to do your marketing or how you’re going to build your technology… Ultimately, this is all in your control. you get to make these decisions and it’s a really exciting opportunity when you do.”

Lesson 4: If you feel comfortable, you’re probably not doing it right.

“There’s a lot of hard decisions that go into business. Who you’re going to work with, how you’re going to compete, what’s the right strategy? Are you going to raise money? Are you going to leave school? You’re going to have to go well beyond your comfort zone.”

Lesson 5: Don’t write your obituary too early.

“This is a mistake we’ve made a handful of times. We’ve been extremely competitive with Google, Microsoft, EMC, and these other large companies who normally we shouldn’t be afraid of. The venture capitalists are often afraid of these guys, but don’t write yourself off. Make sure that you keep on pushing. Make sure that you’re optimizing the right dimensions and areas you can beat [your competitors] in. That’s really important why we still have the company today.”