Nextcast’s Jeff Dickey interviews Gary Flake of Clipboard

Clipboard founder Gary Flake and his team are developing a new way for consumers to save information that they discover on the web. Find out what this former machine learning researcher-turned-CEO has to say about building a business, running the startup marathon, and how they are trying to break down the data silos created by Facebook, Google and Amazon in this episode of Nextcast.

“Clipboard wants to fill a small and simple role,” said Flake, adding that their whole mission is to solve the way people save a section of a web page.

Flake’s company was in the news this past week when it scored a fresh round of cash from Scientia, adding to previous rounds from big-name investors such as Andreesen Horowitz; Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund; First Round Capital and others.

And with that new cash infusion, Flake said now is the time to “go big or go home.”

“Aspire for scale or don’t play,” he says.

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Nextcast with Gary Flake, CEO @ Clipboard from Nextcast on Vimeo.


On advice he would give to his 18-year-old self (minute 1:01): “Not balancing different desires; sometimes I will oscillate from going deep into one thing or broadly sampling… Having enough balance to be able to both broadly sample and go deep on certain topics, and being very intentional about that, I think that is probably the most important advice I could give my 18-year-old self.” 

On the biggest challenge he’s faced at Clipboard (minute 3:10): “We’ve had a pretty charmed existence. A lot of startups, if you think about the typical startup story, it usually has in part of it some element of a crisis…. We haven’t had anything like that happen …. and some of that is just good luck, and some of that is having made some good choices early on. Clipboard wants to fill a small and simple role”

On creating a successful a startup (minute 6:15): “Doing a startup is not a sprint, it’s an endurance race. So, it is much more like a maraton. I think that people who approach a marathon as if it is ultimately going to be a a sprint or have a premature end-point that we are going to be acqui-hired or something like that — almost always fail. You can’t start a startup with the idea that your success is to become an acquihire. You have to start a startup fully committed to doing the long-term endurance race.”

On data silos and the challenges of mobile (8:30): “The issues of creating data silos and the difficulty of getting them in and out on behalf of is a big concern. When you then take that it and push it into the context of mobile, instead of there just being big services like Facebook and Google and Amazon and Apple and Microsoft that are creating data silos, it is now every application. Every application is its own data island…. We wanted to try to break down the silos a little bit. So I am really excited that we may actually have the very first iPhone app that cuts across those data silos to a certain extent.”

On Clipboard’s next steps (minute 10:10): “I feel like the product is at a level of quality that I can now evangelize it…. I am personally going to be focusing a little bit more on growth and business development…. I’d like to see Clipboard more thoughtfully integrated into a lot of different places.”

On Clipboard’s possible exit opportunity (minute 12:30)“We have to aspire for scale or don’t play… This is our opportunity to go big or go home… If we can’t do that (growth)n on our own, then it’s essential that we partner with someone, and that could be strategic alliance or it might be acquisition. This path of kind staying a small company in the middle of the road and doing things at a modest level, I think that is the path I’d avoid at all costs.”

Previously on GeekWireClipboard raises cash for online archiving service, tops 100,000 registered users

Nextcast founder Jeff Dickey is passionate about technology, business and philosophy. He works as the chief cloud architect at Redapt, a Redmond-based cloud and big data infrastructure company. Additional reporting by Kate Stull. [Editor's note: GeekWire is proud to partner with Jeff Dickey who produces the Nextcast entrepreneur interview series].

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