When I was 5, there was a beautiful transformer in the toy shop. I absolutely loved it, but I couldn’t have it because my father said no. That’s the first time I felt the hunger. At that time, I had no idea what money was.
It is my personal belief that polite, patient founders would fail. There seems to be a few echoes. Hunger, among other things, to me, is the most important characteristic of entrepreneur. Let me summarize it with the timeless quote from our beloved Gordon Gekko: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.
I used to be one.
I didn’t know what money was until 9. This time, material satisfaction finally got me through a magical media people nowadays praised as “remote-control airplane”. Money can buy that thing. It doesn’t matter what fiat currency is, the important lesson of life is that money can buy security. At that moment, I achieved the enlightenment. (It is almost like the miraculous time when the water pumped through little Helen Keller’s palm or the first time of ejaculation that symbolizes the manhood of any 10-year-old little boy.)
There is no income for a 10-year-old little boy other than robbing other kids in lower grade. I had neither the bad taste nor the muscle. So, I did a little market research. You see, there were two places for potential customers: on the road/play yard or in the school. The market on the road/play yard was pretty much free. Anyone could have business with little kids in these places, the competition is ruthless. In school, it was monopoly. There were certain inefficiencies that could be exploited. The first business I opened was “homework trading”. If you could take a moment and think about it, the market is untouched. Admittedly, there were some exchange of homeworks after school, but no money involved. The execution was extremely bare-boned. My allies would finish most homework before afternoon, and we sell it for 1 or 2 bulks per copy. Those were happy days and I was innocently stupid of not charging commission fee.
It is very naive to many people of building something and then sell it. It is no-brainer, not scalable and not “passive”. Once more, I did it again later. My business went pretty well until one day a teacher broke in and figured everything out. It was not a big deal for other kids but a big drawback for me. I have no other income source. My family didn’t give me money in daily basis, and I hated to ask. The only stable income in my hand other than the “homework business” was yearly gift money from grandma (around 200 bulks).
I made an offer to my father. Here is the deal, I contribute 200 bulks to the purchase of PC, and I owned 1/4 share of that computer, thus, it automatically translated to 1/4 usage time. My initial programming experience was purely drove by profit, and purposeful. It was not a coincidence that the first shareware I developed was a simple photo-editing one (Fantasia Photo). I did the research, and at that time, the digital camera market just took off. There are several tens of thousands installs, but only a few payments. Barely, I recovered my cost.
There were certain risks associated with “making stuff and sell it” which I haven’t envisioned before. Nowadays, I quote porn site a heck lot of time, no joking, they did fantastic job at monetization. No, they have crappy product, but every pixel is purposely placed in order to trick you into paywall. Their marketing is shameless, directly injected into every dark, dirty corner of the Internet. Unfortunately, at 14, my experience with porn site only told me that the Internet was the best thing ever. The only education was: the Internet is awesome, do something with it and get rich quick. Have you ever heard of ISEF? Yes, that was my funding source. The best part of that money is: it is non-binding, so I can explore whatever I want. But the worst part of that money is: it is non-binding, so I have no pressure on growth. That was when I showed my early obsession symptom. Taking a leap when technology is not ready, bad; polishing every pixel before releasing, double bad. Heck, I didn’t make truck-load money, but I have covered my living expense.
It follows that I dropped out from University and started a two year business adventure and failed miserably. That was when I started to reflect. There are certain traits of entrepreneurs that I am enthusiastic about. They are hungry, stressful, nervous, hard-to-deal-with and due all the respect, haters of work-life balance. I was lack of, well, I can be easily distracted, obsessed on new and shiny stuff.
It is so sad that my gut still only want to build amazing stuff despite all these years of failure.