Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
While other kids my age hung posters of pro skaters or their favorite hair band, my chosen poster was an ad torn out of a copy of Family Computing Magazine featuring my dream computer. In the fall of 1984, I wrote a letter to a small fruit company in Cupertino, California begging for ‘factory direct’ pricing on their latest machine. After several weeks, I received a letter from someone with Marketing in their title who thoughtfully informed me that it wasn’t going to happen. I was briefly disappointed, but quickly realized that at age 12, I didn’t have 2,000 bucks anyway. Ten minutes later, I jumped on my skateboard and exercised my below average skating skills.
When Christmas rolled around, my parents pulled off a miracle. A brand-new Apple IIc presented itself with its matching 9-inch green monitor and perhaps the best printer EVER built—the Apple ImageWriter—which printed miles of “Happy [whatever]” banners from The Print Shop. While my less-fortunate siblings opened unwrapped new Underoos or sock ties from Merry Go Round, I basked in the glory of the new ‘family’ computer. Yeah right. It still sits in my office closet to this day. For those of you poor souls who never knew the beauty of SS/DD diskettes, Offset sectors, PEEKs, POKEs and life at 1.023 MHz well… Linux is the last gasp of a purist’s playground. However, I digress.
The Apple IIc shipped with several diskettes, but Lemonade Stand, was the first into the integrated 5 ¼” drive bay. After the familiar grind and clicks of an Apple II boot routine, my digital education on business commenced. As a child, I lived on a farm with an apple orchard. The orchard was more decorative than productive, but nonetheless I tried selling wormy apples on the side of US 22/3 with vehicles flying by at 60 MPH. Location, location, location was only one of my problems. Lemonade Stand was a chance to redeem myself.
The details are hazy, but I remember that my first few days in business were somewhat profitable. Then a mal-informed weather report washed away my capital; then it did again and again and again. Back to my skateboard. After recharging with a dose of Nerds and a few Fruit Rollups, it dawned on me that a pattern of deceit emerged in the otherwise random inaccurate weather reports. The once random strategy of balancing lemonade production, signage spend and pricing was replaced with one that matched the faux random weather pattern. I was the Warren Buffett of Lemonade Stand. I couldn’t lose. Too bad I didn’t know what a Warren Buffett was in 1984.
At age 12, I learned an important lesson: success can be achieved through a repeatable process. As an entrepreneur, how to best manage risk and outcome variability is always playing in my mind. The ability to recognize patterns becomes an invaluable survival skill on every front of entrepreneurship— it’s what makes the prospects of data science, predictive analytics and deep learning so completely exciting. I’m not a quantum physicist, but some notions of the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics in some quantumly-weird way bolster the case of “success is a repeatable process”. Not to get too technical, but something called a wave function collapse says that particles can simultaneously travel all possible paths and exist in all possible states, but if one tries to measure the particle by some means, its state and path are no longer uncertain. Whether or not it’s an accurate comparison, the fact that I bring quantum theory into the narrative lets me be right and wrong at the same time.
We entrepreneurs are always trying to develop the better mousetrap. Many paths are traversed to find that hidden, repeatable formula for success. Sometimes we get lucky and find the secret formula with few iterations. Other times the search exceeds the resources we can bring to bear. Some people pay dearly for serendipitous flashes of insight or have come upon them through unspeakable suffering or loss. I believe every problem is solvable. Quantum physics basically says so. If A, B, C and Z exist, then so must A to B to C to Z.
My definition of an entrepreneur is “someone who moves humanity forward.” Over the past two years I have met and been humbled by so many amazing entrepreneurs who I am now working along side with to support achievements in things not possible before.
We will share our stories on how we’re working to stop the scourge of suicide, help the elderly better advocate for their health care, lift up military veterans suffering from the unseen wounds of war, prevent the life-altering development of type II diabetes and avoid weeks of physical therapy as a start. But more importantly, we will talk about how these entrepreneurs previously unknown to each other can work with together to add force multipliers to magnify one’s mission with another. We have created a platform to power entrepreneurship, so that entrepreneurship can become a platform–a platform to move humanity forward.
Jason Fisher, an Atari-playing farm boy turned software businessperson, has over twenty years of product management and sales experience in enterprise data protection and security. He has run software product businesses sized from zero to 500 million dollars for companies such as Storactive, VERITAS Software and Symantec. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and enjoys pulling weeds in the Florida heat to relax.