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Thursday, February 17, 2011

On The Road

They say that most people only have one really great, unique and original idea in their whole lives.  Usually, that Idea comes early in life.  Colonel Sanders was in his sixties when he decided to sell his famous chicken recipe.  My story is not as compelling as the colonel’s, but it has taken me a while to get here.

My life has been wrapped around the computer industry.  In recent years, I have tried to shed my direct reliance on it for my livelihood, but it is still and always will be an intrinsic part of my commercial value.  To appreciate this, a brief history is in order.

I began my adult life as a musician and a desire to be a radio personality.  To that end, I went to Specs Howard School of Broadcasting Arts.  With my 3rd Class License in hand, I set about finding a job in radio, eventually finding said job at WPON in Pontiac.  Meanwhile, I decided to go back to school and get a degree in Communication Arts.

After switching to being the program director of the Oakland University radio station, I found myself a little short of money.  My dad told me about a computer store called Computerland that was opening near campus.  I applied.  To my surprise, I was hired as a retail salesperson.  I didn’t know a thing about computers, but then who did back then?  I learned on the job.  This was in 1978.

The personal computer was just starting to get some notice by the general public.  I was on the cutting edge.  This theme would repeat itself throughout my career.  I don’t know if I’ve been lucky or if I actually have some sense about the next big thing, but I’ve always found my way onto the cutting edge.  After PCs were established, I moved to a company that was experimenting with selling local area networks, they were brand new.  Then, it was groupware like Lotus Notes and email.  Next came wide area communications – the ability to interconnect networks across large geographic distances.  And finally, the Internet.  By the time the Internet rolled around, I had my own company, but there I was, pioneering again.  Being on the cutting edge is messy, but exciting.

My last cutting edge experience was working in a company developing cloud based computing solutions.  We didn’t even know we were in the cloud then.  The term hadn’t been popularized yet.  It has been several years since I’ve been on the cutting edge and I’m starting to get antsy.  Something has to be done about it.

Enter JT. JT is a friend who I have known for eight years.  He is a very focused young man who seems to have a good bead on his direction in life.  He is a software guy; in particular, a Microsoft software development guy.  He loves it.  But, he doesn’t tolerate mediocrity very well.  I can relate.  I suffer from a similar affliction.  He decided that he wants to develop the next big thing on the Internet and retire young and rich.  Seems like a good plan.

As with any plan, the devil is in the details.  First, he had to come up with a good idea.  Every few months, JT would come to me with an idea for the next big thing.  Unfortunately, I quickly shot holes in each of them and JT skulked away dejectedly. 

Recently, we redecorated our bathroom upstairs.  One of the results of this effort was the realization of a lifelong dream to have a tub with jets in my very own home.  I especially enjoy using it in the winter.  A few months back, I was soaking and reading (as I am inclined to do).  I was reminiscing about my life back in high school.  I was a hippie.  I did what hippies did – searched for the next party.  I was pretty good at finding it, too.  Then, in a flash, an idea came to me.  That thought had caused me to hatch an idea of a great new use for the Internet.

Quickly, I began to search for a site that would do what I had conceived.  Nothing.  I told JT about it.  He searched.  Nothing.  I could not believe that if someone had implemented this idea, it would remain obscure enough not to be found.  It just wasn’t there.  JT and I realized that we are about to change the world.  That’s my goal anyway.  JT just wants to get rich.  The work begins…

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