Dug Song, co-founder and CEO of Duo Security, speaks at the Techweek Detroit Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 on how to build successful startups. Founded in 2010, Duo Security is a mobile authentication and security company solving the biggest problem in computer security today—account takeover and online fraud.

Dug feels that the growth of any company is heavily dependent on its people, culture, and the community within which it is placed.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Startup Folks are Hackers and Depend on Collaboration: 
    Dug believes in hacker culture and feels there has been an evolution of the term ‘hack’. Apart from being a hacker, Dug gives high importance to collaboration. It is critical for early-stage startups to have a healthy network with different sets of people and work. Company culture allows startups to stay sensible, coherent, and gives rise to amazing success stories.
  2. Startups are All about Coworking and Community Building: 
    Dug is in favor of open culture, which led to the creation of Duo Security from the ground up at the Tech Brewery, located at Ann Arbor’s north side. The Tech Brewery was founded in 2009 just to see if open space for tech startups would gain support in Ann Arbor or not. Community building is definitely a hit idea, as Duo Security has grown from a 3-person startup to a 100+ employee firm today. Communities, according to Dug, can also be created as per the events an entrepreneur attends or participates in, like Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire.
  3. Startups Depend on Company Culture:
    According to Dug, “Culture becomes the king as the company grows.” Building a company from the scratch requires motivated individuals who are keen towards growing and learning together. It is also essential to have a technical partner by your side who will be equally interested in growing the startup.

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 0:30 – Dug shared his views on building new companies and successful startups
  • 0:44 – Dug considered his personal journey as “a hacker’s life”
  • 1:20 – Duo Security started in 2010 and mainly focuses on computer security
  • 1:21 – Dug shed light on the evolution of the company, which started with 3 people initially
  • 2:48 – Dug discussed the “hacker culture”
  • 3:48 – Free software can be made collaboratively
  • 6:06 – Healthy networking is required for creating startups
  • 8:28 – Creating a startup is based on coworking and community building
  • 12:31 – Motivated team members are the key towards building company culture
  • 15:03 – Startups are associated with anti-patterns which include no outsourcing and finding a technical partner for growing the new company


Co-founder and CEO, Duo Security