This is just to be honest with others who may be curious just exactly what my starting point is. I find this really important in "learning" simply due to the strong effects of context. Because when you figure out that Bill Gates' father was a prominant lawyer whom founded a firm and his mother had an almost equal level of success... well you start thinking, "How much can I actually learn from Bill's beginning?"
It's not because I don't respect the various prominant figures with lucrative upbringings - I just don't have enough in common to take their "startup advice" seriously. Anyhow, here's where I'm coming from, in as few words as I can manage.
I'm adopted and grew up in Kentucky. Family was great, but by no means rich or poor.
I went to University of Louisville, and educated in Marketing and Economics. To this day, it is the biggest waste of money and time I can identify.
Did some research while here (under one of the professors) and tutored Economics. Goofed off, drank, but studied hard. Post college, you figure out that being at the top there is like being the king of an ant hill.
The first real "business" I started was a rock band. We tried and had fun. Actually made money! But then all the members fell prey to the "this is just a dream" mentality and it died.
I sold my first "product" at the end of my senior year. It was selling this goofy economics packet for all the desparate kids taking finals. I made $220 I think?
I almost went into life insurance. Quit the night I got accepted to the program. It was the result of a panic attack and thinking that I could be caught in that forever.
Post College (2011ish)
Started a web dev and design firm... before I even know how to do any of it. First contract I picked up was for $300 dollars, but took weeks to finish.
Came up with a crazy idea with one of my best friends. And tried to make it happen. It was a video game personality test. This was a good motivation to learn programming.
Spent the next year and a half living on less than $1000 a month while learning programming and design & picking up the few contracts that I could.
Applied to TechStars. Failed.
Kept working at web design and development. (contracts here and there)
Met Brad Feld in Louisville. Impressed the hell out of him and redesigned his blog and his startup rev. series. This is a story in and of itself.
Forced taught my self game development. 3d programming and such.
Got a hot offer in Sacramento Ca. that I wound up turning down. Because. Well I had startup idea - that crazy video game personality test.
Started banking everything on TechStars again...
Did some contract work for Foundry Group.
Re-jump started the idea of just doing a sevices firm for high end business executives that want to MVP startup ideas. Used connections I'd made through Foundry Group and Brad Feld.
Started getting too much growth from this to handle. But money was now ... very plentiful.
Moved to Sacramento Ca. For the view and weather.
- started slowing down client intake and taking it easy.
So I'm not living on ramen or anything. Although I do know what it's like to be in poverty for elongated periods of time. I live quite awesomely now days, but it didn't come with ease on any level.
Another significant fact. I've suffered from clinical depression, twice. Just coming out of a third lapse so, that's nice. I never thought this type of thing was common until the startup community at large began a lot more transparency about it. But, when you stand in front of the same laptop for 80 hours a week in poverty...it stacks up.
J Cole Morrisonhttp://start.jcolemorrison.com
Startup Engineering, former Techstars Hackstar, AWS Solutions Architect and Culture guy. Based out of Sacramento, California.