What you enjoy about programming may be the same thing that you would enjoy about entrepreneurship. Using problem-solving skills, creativity, and commitment to create something that initially exists only in your imagination ”whether it s a software application, a product, or a company ”is one of the great joys in life.
If you are seriously considering quitting your corporate programming job to develop a software product, here s a glance at the risks and rewards of the inventor s life.
Jason Olim and his twin brother, Matthew, did it the legendary way: When they were 24, they started a business ”CDnow ”in their parents basement that went public and became a global brand name .
That was in 1994 ”not so long ago. That s the great thing about the rapid growth of new technologies: Unknown entrepreneurs, working in modest quarters , without corporate backing, can still come up with a great idea and turn it into computing gold, the way Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and Bill Gates did at the dawn of the personal-computer age.
You can become a successful inventor at 24, after just a few years in corporate programming, as Jason did. Or you can become an inventor at 60, as I have, after spending a career lifetime as a corporate programmer.
Is it still possible to invent something in your basement? Absolutely! Jason declares. There are phases, life cycles, to new technology. At first there is the core technology, followed by some enabling applications, followed by enabled applications. There is always going to be a new idea. And in any technology s evolution there are always new things to do. Even today, there are new businesses popping up that are entirely next -generation things with the Internet. We will never see invention stop.
Although the idea for CDnow had been brewing slowly for a few years in his subconscious , Jason took a programming job in an electronic mail routing company after graduating from Brown University with a degree in computer science. He was the youngest programmer in a team of eleven very experienced professionals. I was the only single person in the group , he says. When they needed someone to go to Hong Kong for a week, or to spend a month in Tokyo, that fell to me. It was great. Filling up my passport was fantastic, the best part of the job. But though he loved his programming job, he left it at age 24. The idea that had been lurking in his subconscious drove him to enter the risky (but heady) world of the software inventor.