[iDC] Garage Entrepreneurs

Alex -Vipowernet alex at islands.vi
Tue Jun 12 12:54:57 EDT 2007

You are confusing the creation of the infrastructure with the creation of the companies that USE the infrastructure. 
Yes - the Internet depended on government funding to get bigger than tiny. 
That is like the government building highways or airports. 

My Business was the product of me busting my butt to use THAT infrastructure to create a new enterprise that used the infrastructure.  That is like Ford developing a mass market automobile or Rockefeller developing fuel refineries and gas stations to run  on highways. 

Google is not a government funded start up project. It came from guys in a garage working until they had something to show venture capitalists who funded the next stage of development until  that stage was worthy of more development and more capital infusion. 
If they had messed up - their project would have died and they'd have been pushing brooms. 

Jobs and Woz - there were a hundred guys in the Palo Alto Garages dreaming up early personal computers ( I was one of them) and most of us did not invent a workable machine, let alone one that could be sold, or did anything useful or gathered support. 

You look at Apple and Google and HP now and think they are BIG companies. 
I was there when Apple was tiny. And when the BCE was tiny.  When Google was not yet a thought form. 

If you do not understand that entrepreneurs do a LOT of work and take a LOT of risk, then please go get a job with a punch card and a regular check. 

The garage start up is not a myth - it is the hard reality of almost all of America's big companies.. and the reality of most of the ones that do NOT get big as well.  The vast majority of businesses (all businesses) began on dining room tables and in garages. The hard part of the story is how many of these garage ideas never get out of the garage, never got big, don't work and don't make anyone any money at all. It takes hundreds of folks trying new ideas in their garages for one new enterprise to start up. 

I began six businesses on my dining room table.  One got big enough to sell for serious money - even so it still missed the mark.  
Had the new owners pursued our core business idea - we'd have built eBay a decade earlier - alas we were too early and not enough of the other pieces were in place. 

Even the early commercial computer companies were only started because of the possibility of large government contracts. Above all much of the development of computing as we now know it was driven by US military needs in relation to the Cold War and Vietnam and continues to be sustained by military adventurism in Iraq and elsewhere. To a large extent this, rather than some fantasy of garage creativity, is and always has been the 'heart of the economic engine'.

  Your ignorance of history is staggering.  ENIAC was a big government contract - not for the Cold War - it was for WW2.  
  The second successful commercial comptuer was for private industry. And funded by entrepreneurs who worked by the seat of their pants (without a BIG contract) and ran out of capital and had to sell their nascent business to a larger company that could fund the development costs. See http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0645.html?printable=1

  Jobs and Woz and Hewlett and Packard may have worked in garages, but those garages were sited conveniently close to the location of an already huge industry only made possible and sustained by large scale government funding, spending and infrastructure. 

  Those garages were in communities where there was a critical mass of supply and demand but Jobs and Woz were not selling to BIG government contracts and sold the first machines by the hard work of one guy peddling the Apple ONE to school teachers.   

  The garages themselves probably only existed because of that industry's need to house its workers. 

  PROBABLY!!!??! What is this word doing in this sentence? Are you guessing? It sure seems like you are guessing. 
  You make it sound like Steve Jobs was living in a garage because there were not enough workers housing projects for them... DO you think Palo Alto is Moscow?  The vision is laughable. 

  You call this image a " libertarian fantasy that denies the real history of the industry" 

  Having been present for much of this history, what you don't know shows. 
  The PC industry has a long proud history if inventing stuff in garages and dining rooms tables. 
  See VisiCalc story for example. 

  Some of us who worked in those garages resent the image that BIG government and BIG companies invent this stuff. 
  The very first e-commerce business was started on a dining room table and used a data host that was in a garage. LITERALLY. 
  before there was any of this Internet infrastructure we ere shuffling data around at 300 BPS and doing business and inventing core concepts that are in use today.  
  We built it up bit by bit and some parts of it got to be huge. 
  Inventing  business processes is not ONE invention - it was a thousand of small inventions, problems solved, ideas hatched, dead ends in which we got lost and walls we hit that bloodied our noses. 

  In the beginning it is creative entrepreneurs who risk everything they have, borrow from family and friends,  scrape together assets and build dreams into working products.  
  And it is a dog-eat-dog world into which they throw their invention and it either thrives or dies.
  I had my share of garage ideas die in the marketplace.  
  The risks are enormous.  
  The costs overwhelming. 
  The work unending. 
  The opportunity for success is dim and hard to reach
  But when it hits. 
  It's huge. 
  And all YOU see is the "huge" at the end and ignore all the rest... 

  Alex Randall - Proud Garage Entrepreneur 

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