Tyler Droll on Starting a Startup

Tyler Droll, Co-Founder and CEO of Yik Yak, joined Business Today as the first keynote speaker for the 2015 Start @ a Startup conference. After studying IT at Furman University, Droll saw an opportunity to create Yik Yak, a messaging platform that allows users to post short anonymous messages called “Yaks” to all users within a geographic radius.

Droll founded Yik Yak in 2013, shortly after graduating, almost as an act of rebellion. Though he had entered the school focused on the pre-med program, he quickly found his calling elsewhere, and luckily—both for him and Yik Yak’s millions of monthly users—he answered the call of startup work enthusiastically. In just a few short years, Yik Yak has grown into one of the most prolific and recognizable social media platforms available. Tyler joined us today as a sponsor for the conference, as a representative for Yik Yak, and as a salesperson for startups all over the world.

For him, one of the most exciting aspects of the explosive growth of startups in Silicon Valley and around the world is that working for a startup gives every employee the opportunity to be an entrepreneur, and to conceptualize, create, and sell a product that they’re passionate about. In keeping with this entrepreneurial status, Tyler spent much of his time selling startups, and the startup experience, to the conference attendees. In his estimation, working for a startup provides opportunities unparalleled in any other field. In contrast to the path of medicine that he had once followed, which has been largely the same for many years, Droll found a new path in Yik Yak, and one that defied his expectations at every possible turn.

Relating his experiences to the theme of the conference, Droll spent much of his time outlining and emphasizing the depth of opportunity provided by startups, and he emphasized some of the most important lessons he’s gained during his short, but significant, time working at a startup.

Comparing larger companies to startups, Droll emphasized how glad he was to have made the choices that he did. Because startups are the product of smaller teams with a more focused dream than larger companies, the opportunity to have a measurable impact on your product are unparalleled in other fields. All employees of a startup—from founders to coders to engineers—are able to demonstrably affect the business plan and the product of the company. Though it’s messaging platform reaches millions of users worldwide, Yik Yak only has a staff headcount of roughly 50. Through that size each and every employee has the opportunity to shape the product and make their vision a reality. Ultimately, Droll’s emphasis was that opportunities like these are almost impossible to find at larger companies, but startups give the best and brightest—including a pre-med student from Georgia—the chance to bring their dreams to life.

Though he only had a short time to impart the wisdom he’s gained at his time with Yik Yak, Droll’s introduction, and compelling sales pitch for startups as a whole, gave us a wonderful beginning to our conference. His story, and the stories that he envisions for all attendees of the 2015 Start @ a Startup conference, are a testament to the incredible opportunities that Startups can provide.