“Well, you’re going to need a bank account” my mother said as she glanced at the stack of mail-order checks I’d accumulated.
My journey into computer programming actually started at an earlier age. By the time I was 10 I had written my first lines of code after hacking the wildly popular “Petz” computer game from the late 90s. I learned how to modify my virtual pets into a rainbow of different colors and sizes. Fluffy neon kittens, and horse-sized poodles, all living on my Windows PC.
A few years later, while the sound of the dialup modem screeched throughout our house alerting everyone that the single phone line was now in use, I realized that an offline version of my drag and drop game would circumvent this uniquely 2000s problem in American households. And I might just be able to get away with charging for it if I shipped out physical CDs.
Off I went to Staples to begin printing labels after creating a branded design. I setup a single landing page advertising the price and address where children’s parents could send physical checks to purchase a copy of the game.
Despite this work, nothing prepared me for the utter thrill and even hints of confusion that someone was sending me $15 for a piece of plastic, graphics and some code I had developed. And not just someone; I ended up selling about 150 CDs before I received a curious email one afternoon about a year later.
The email read, “hey, you have a great website, can we buy it for $[a-sum-any-teenager-would-take].” I gave the offer 10 very serious minutes of thought before immediately saying yes.
I was 14 and had just sold my first startup.
Pictured: My sister (right) and I (left) on an early autumn afternoon.