How Aaron Levie Turned Box from a College Project into a Billion Dollar Business

Aaron Levie was born in December of 1985. He is best known for being the confident, brilliant and quirky Cofounder and CEO of Box. As a world-recognized cloud storage company, Box services business customers. The business also assists with meeting the unique needs they (and individuals) face. While it’s now a successful worldwide company, Box wasn’t always such a champion. The company was born in a college dorm room long before it became the Silicon Valley trophy it is today.

As someone who came from a Jewish family in a beautiful Seattle suburb, Levie is an unsuspecting man. Under the surface, he’s a hungry tech mogul with a rather all-American upbringing. After high school graduation, Levie relocated to attend the University of Southern California. There he studied for several years and grew his foundation in marketing and business. While there he was also given a class project about electronic storage solutions. During this Levie interviewed businesses and found out that they had unmet needs. These issues ranged across the industry but left a hole in the market. As a clear problem-solver by nature, Levie began to look deeper into the issue. Since businesses and individuals weren’t able to do things the way they needed to, Levie made a solution. Not only that, but he monetized it.

The college dropout & Mark Cuban

In 2005 Levie left the University of Southern California. One year before he should have got his Bachelors Degree, he was back to living in his childhood home. Now in his native Washington, Levie began to chase the most profitable hunch of his life. He reached out to an old friend, Dylan Smith, for a meeting. Together they began to work on the business from the Mercer Island property. That’s where, also in 2005, they were able to officially form the business and incorporate it. According to the Seattle Times, Levie and Smith were able to secure an initial investment, as well. It came from business mogul Mark Cuban and put their plan into action.

Mark Cuban’s partnership seems to have launched Box into new territory. As a celebrity entrepreneur, Cuban’s partnership and backing were huge. It likely validated the young business and allowed it to gain a great deal of visibility. It’s safe to assume that Cuban also acted as an accountability partner at this stage in Box’s growth. Accountability is essential to any fresh entrepreneur and there’s no replacement for it. It is a huge factor in staying motivated when starting a business.

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The jump from B2C to B2B

Levie and Smith first developed Box as a way for individual consumers to access and store files. Though, they later decided to market their solution to business customers instead. According to Box.com, once the business shifted it steadily grew. They opened an office in London, England in 2012 due to the continued success. A recent IPO report revealed that about “40% of Fortune 500 companies are paying Box customers”, as well.

From the very beginning, Aaron Levie proved that he was motivated and hungry for success. That kind of rational thinking is what led him to create such a successful company. As a business with limitless potential, Box can serve anyone in the world. Box operates in cyberspace with a borderless structure that allows for many applications. Because of this, it appears to share the pillars of Capitalism on both the consumer end and employee end.

In a recent interview with GeekWire, Levie was asked about the next steps for Box. He dove into discussing the company’s current plans to develop Artificial Intelligence. He also detailed what they’re already doing in the space by saying,

“We are building our own, we have a bunch of internal projects with our own machine learning (teams). For instance, we have a technology called Box Graph. [It] basically maps all the activity happening within your enterprise.. and then can deliver advanced features based on the patterns of work and behavior.. how people are working in your organization. Some of those features are going to be used for productivity reasons.. some of those features are going to be for security reasons.”

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Making the world a better place, the best way he knows how

It goes without saying that Levie seems dedicated to bettering the world around him. Though, he seems passionate about self-improvement, as well. When Business Insider asked him what his two favorite books were, both were self-help titles. The driven 33-year old seems to maintain a bold mentality in work and in his own time. Choosing to read and relax with improvement topics, even after he leaves the office.

With this character, Levie and his childhood friend were able to build a large business. One that competes with well-known Software as a Service (SaaS) companies like Salesforce. All the while, maintaining the freedom and ability to manage themselves. Being in control of their income and organization opened many doors for them. 

Levie proved time and again that he had the discipline and drive to show up and make his dream a reality. He pushed through the late (VERY late) nights to turn his college idea into a billion-dollar business. As a ‘one percenter’ in the United States, he has proven that hard work reaps great rewards. Box and the history behind its formation are great reminders of the American Dream. For more insight from Levie, reference speeches TechCrunch, GigaOm and Fortune Brainstorm Tech.

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