Los Angeles Business Journal

Twenty in Their 20s: Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy

Monday, May 13, 2013

EVAN SPIEGEL, 22

BOBBY MURPHY, 24

Snapchat, a photo messaging app, Venice

EMPLOYEES: 13

FINANCIALS: Startup with zero revenue; $14 million in funding.

What led you to start your own company?

Spiegel: We started out building stuff because we were curious – we’ve been surprised and thrilled by the uptake. It’s an awesome adventure.

Murphy: I always liked working on my own projects and hated job interviews.

Where did you get the startup money?

Spiegel: Initially friends and family, then institutional investors in Silicon Valley.

Murphy: We went about a year paying costs out of pocket.

What was the biggest challenge?

Spiegel: At one point there were seven of us working out of my dad’s house. That got a little intense – but sometimes I miss those days.

Murphy: The whole experience has and will continue to be a series of new challenges. Managing a quickly growing company is a big challenge, but for a couple guys who had never made an iPhone app, so was building the first version of the app and getting our first 100 users.

What was the most important lesson you learned?

Spiegel: Stay focused. Saying no to new opportunities and distractions can be hard to do, but it’s extremely important.

Murphy: Embrace that region that lies just outside your comfort zone. This is one of those circularly difficult things because if it’s ever easy you’re no longer outside your comfort zone.

How many hours a day do you put in?

Spiegel: A 12-hour day is pretty typical.

Murphy: Depends on the day; 12 to 14 hours is typical.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers or meet with clients and investors?

Spiegel: No. We’re fortunate to work in an industry where young entrepreneurs are respected, and we have benefited tremendously from the generous support of our mentors and advisers.

Murphy: I don’t think so. What matters is what we’re doing and how well we’re doing it. Age is a consequence of experience, not an indicator of it. I know more now than I did two years ago, but only because of what’s happened in the last two years, not because two years has passed.

Will you start another company?

Spiegel: I’m really focused on Snapchat right now. It’s hard to imagine working on something else.

Murphy: Haven’t thought about it. I spend too much time thinking about this one.

Could you ever work for someone else?

Spiegel: No.

Murphy: Well, technically, I work for Evan.

What do you do to relax?

Spiegel: Hang out at the beach, Jacuzzi, listen to Taylor Swift (kidding, but seriously).

Murphy: I just got a hammock. I like lying in that and putting on a new DJ mix.