Founder's Friday: Pubget

Who are the faces behind a company? How did the company get started? These are common question you may have about startups you see and hear about. If you don't get a chance to personally meet the founders, you're unlikely to ever know their story. That's what Founder Fridays is all about.

This week we have Ramy Arnaout, co-founder and CEO of Pubget, the search engine of life science PDF's.

 1) What is your current Startup? (Name & URL)
Pubget, Inc.
2) What's the elevator pitch?
Science is the engine of progress. Pubget helps you do science faster. Consider: every year scientists, doctors, and engineers waste a half-billion minutes trying to find research papers. That's like a small research team working full time since Christ. You want breakthroughs? Cures? Try giving the world---or your organization---that much more horsepower each year. That's our mission.
Papers are power. By finding them faster and handling them better, we've built two fast-growing businesses: an advertising business that lets vendors reach millions of scientists and doctors and a premium software business for making science faster at enterprises large and small. And the best is yet to come.
3) When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Most people I know have an entrepreneurial bent. Friends from undergrad at MIT founded companies like e-Ink. Friends from medical school and residency at Harvard founded companies in healthcare and health IT. All the coolest technology, and many transformative ideas, grow through companies. When you have an idea, if you want to make it happen, go beyond academia and become an entrepreneur.
 4) How did you meet your co-founders?
The first version of Pubget lived on my computer. I built it because I was short on time and wanted to find papers fast. I'd type a search, and bingo, no matter where the paper was online, the PDF would pop up on my screen. Friends saw this and wanted it too. They wanted it on their computers. But it was daunting to port it. Yet I didn't want to lose friends. So I started asking people if there was a way to bring Pubget to everybody. A friend introduced me to Ian Connor, an IBM vet who can build anything. When he saw the state of affairs for getting papers in science and medicine, he was shocked. "We have to fix this!" he said. He was right (as usual). Soon after, he quit IBM, and Pubget, Inc. was born.
5) What was the best advice you ever got?
"Stay cool," from a Greyhound bus driver in traffic. Applies everywhere.
6) What Startup(s) are you most excited about today? Why?
Everything massive-passive. Most data out there rushes past us, unnoticed and unexplored. There's a lot of knowledge in there, if you know where to look. There are signal-to-noise issues; there are privacy issues that are very important and ought to be taken seriously. But there are a lot of smart people out there ready to address them. It's the dawn of a new era. You can't be data-driven without data. That's the most exciting space to me. And Pubget's there, front and center.
7) What's your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
Knowing we're changing the world. Knowing that there's a way things should be, a better way, beyond the way things are, and knowing you're part of a dedicated team that wakes up each day hungry to build that better future. That, and seeing it happen around you as you all work together to do it. There's nothing like that feeling.
 8) If you could recommend one book for entrepreneurs to read, what would it be and why?
"The Evolution of Cooperation" by Robert Axelrod. It's a story: how do you move beyond zero-sum interactions, especially if no one's there to force you to play nice?
It's true startups require passion; you need to know your space; you need brilliance to identify, understand, fix problems no one can. But this book's about something more important to a startup: people. It's people you have to work with, convince about new ideas; it's people you're there to help. Sometimes their interests will run counter to yours, or at least they might seem to, and there's no "grown-up" to force all you kids to play nice. So how do you do move forward together? Read "The Evolution of Cooperation." Spoiler alert: be good, go far---just don't be stupid.


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