I was not one of those kids who fell in love with programming or really had any connection to the tech world at an early age. Growing up I was 100% convinced I was going to be an NBA player, and the only question was how tall of a point guard I’d be. However, considering I didn’t even make the freshmen team, I’d say it’s a good thing I developed some other interests. Before getting to Ohio State to study computer science my only exposure to programming had been making silly games on the TI-83 calculator, but I quickly realized I had found my passion.
This passion made me hungry to learn as much as I could outside of the classroom, and I was always involved with one side project or another while in school. Some of my first experiences respecting the scrappiness it takes to make it as an entrepreneur came from filling up our (rather large) campus with different chalk messages trying to get users for my first company. After interning for a startup in San Francisco, I was hooked.
I eventually founded another company with two classmates, and after a few semi-successful post-launch months, I made what seemed to be the “obvious” decision. I dropped out of college, and we moved to Silicon Valley to raise our first round of funding. We never managed to quite achieve the lofty goals we had, but after a small exit I decided to come back to Columbus to finish my last few classes and get my degree. I learned an insane amount in my time out west and will always be grateful for that experience, but I learned something else after getting home. I was seeing high-caliber people and companies all around me, right here. I used to think there was something nebulous “missing” from the Midwest that I needed to find, but that simply wasn’t true. It was here. It is here.
I feel extremely lucky that this time was right around when Drive was founded. Most VC firms don’t employ software engineers, and I never imagined I’d end up working at one. However, Chris and Mark had a vision for how I could use technology and data to both help the Midwest startup community and make us better investors. I truly believe this is the best place in the world to build a company, and I’m beyond happy to have a role in creating a future where that’s obvious to everyone else as well.
PS. I’ll happily take having been back in Ohio for the Cavs first championship over making it to the NBA any day!