The brothers behind the San Francisco tech startup, IFTTT, are not the typical Silicon Valley startup team. Linden and Alexander Tibbets are also seventh-generation Texans and graduates of Duncanville High School. Melissa Repko of the Dallas Morning News connected with Linden, the CEO, and Alexander, who oversees the marketing and branding of IFTTT, to talk about their company, entrepreneurship, and their advice to Dallas on how to become a major tech hub.
The premise of how IFTTT works is simple. The user-created a recipe, which is free on their website, and through the network of IoT can send and receive data and orders to perform tasks. For instance, you can send yourself a text every morning, which was Linden’s first recipe and is one that he still has sent to his phone. Alexander’s first was to search Craigslist for a very specific camera. Six years later, there are more than 340 companies offering devices and apps that are IFTTT compatible.
The brothers tell Repko that entrepreneurs need to be constantly improving and evolving, in order to sell their ideas to investors. If the leaders of a startup are on their fourth, fifth, or sixth pitches, and their pitch has not changed, they really need to ask themselves what is it that they know and why are they so certain that they know it. The pitch needs to grow just like the development of the product or service grew and developed as the idea evolved.
Linden was hired at Ideo, a design firm, in Palo Alto, bringing him to California as an engineer. Alexander spent time in New York City before heading west to work as a film editor in California. Linden recognized the control that he had in making decisions that users would then take for granted, but that control wasn’t afforded to the typical user. IFTTT changes that by allowing the user to decide how their devices will work for them, instead of just having the engineers that design do it.
The Dallas/Fort Worth region is a hotbed of entrepreneurship. But according to Linden, what sets Silicon Valley apart from the rest of the country is the support failure of the community. While no startup wants to fail, the reality is that failure has to be an accepted part of the process. Alexander on the other hand believes that San Francisco has a huge community that is interested in building and continually trying new things. People in the community are always working on side projects outside of their chosen career. Always trying to somehow positively influence their lives or the lives of their friends.