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Why Notion is staying small as its valuation gets bigger
Work tools startup Notion, which recently reached a reported $800 million valuation, isn’t on the verge of a big Softbank round. In fact, COO Akshay Kothari says the startup has “never felt like if we had more money we could grow faster.” The company, centered around an app that helps non-developers build collaboration tools, has more than one million users and has scaled its product quickly despite having a team of just 27. I wrote about the company’s partnership with some of tech’s top accelerators and venture capital firms last month. People are very curious about this small company and how it is run, so here’s more from my recent interview with COO Akshay Kothari in which we discussed the hyped startup’s philosophy of staying small and some of the challenges it may have ahead with this brand of thinking as competitors are raising massive sums. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Notion COO Akshay Kothari Where does your story begin with Notion? Give me a snapshot of where the team is now. Akshay Kothari: [Notion co-founders Ivan Zhao and Simon Last] started Notion six years ago and that’s when I invested. I had sold my previous company and I had this newfound money that I didn’t know what to do with. I invested in Notion, so that’s my connection. We were kind of in research mode for many years trying to uncover what the market needs were. We launched about two years ago; 1.0 was just notes that you could take and a wiki so that you could collaborate with people. And then last year we launched databases and that was the 2.0 version, which kind of seemed like an inflection point, where now you could not only have your notes and your wiki, but also