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What gave you the idea to begin Think Computer?
I’ve always enjoyed playing with electronics, and computers in particular. When I was 11, I began helping friends and family with computer problems on a regular basis. When I was about 14, I wanted to start doing work for businesses, but to protect myself and my family, I
decided the best thing to do would be to incorporate. Consequently, I decided to start Think Computer at least in part as a defensive measure.
What services does Think Computer provide?
Think Computer started out with computer repair as its primary service. Now, we’ve shifted more to software, though we still offer consulting, web site hosting, graphic and web site deisgn, and credit card processing as services.
How do you balance managing a company and attending Harvard full-time?
Sometimes I wonder what the answer to this question is myself.
Where are the headquarters of the company?
The company is officially headquartered in Cleveland, OH.
What spurred you to form Think Computer Foundation?
I was invited to speak at a panel at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and during one panel discussion, another panelist from Jamaica mentioned how much his country could benefit from help with technology. In reply, I suggested that there were plenty of businesses in the United States with old but functioning computers that they would be willing to
donate, if only they knew how. I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who just talked about it, though, so when I arrived back home, I began the process of incorporating Think Computer Foundation as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Tell me about the philanthropic activities of your foundation.
The Foundation has donated computers to educational instituions in Jamaica and Brazil, though it has been a real challenge getting them there.
Did you have any difficulties in forming a 501 (c) non-profit organization at 17?
Yes; the IRS was not particularly helpful, as usual.
Do you feel that attending Harvard and not going directly into the world of business was the best decision?
Yes, I’ve always believed that getting a college education is just as important as gaining real-world experience–but you can only go to college once.
How important are the proper advisors in ensuring a young entrepreneur’s success?
Advisors make the otherwise difficult process of entrepreneurship much more bearable. It’s great to be able to discuss your thoughts with someone who actually supports you. While it’s possible to get by without any outside advice, it’s much more enjoyable if you have someone to turn to.
Have you had any advisors guide you along the way?
Yes, I have had a couple of friends serve as advisors over the years.
What books and resources would you recommend for young entrepreneurs?
“StartUp: A Silicon Valley Adventure,” by Jerry Kaplan. It’s an excellent and easy read.
How important do you consider networking and building contacts to be for an entrepreneur’s success?
Networking is crucial, but I’ve always believed that the actual idea and the manner in which it is executed are the most important aspects of any venture.
What do you see in your future?
Another question that I wish I could answer. Hopefully, I’ll continue running Think Computer once I’m out of college.
If you could pin it down to just one thing, what is the one most important thing you have learned about business?
The person you should trust the most is yourself, and no one else.
Any final advice for young entrepreneurs or businessmen just getting started?
If you think you have a great idea that fills a gap, and you’re responsible enough to take action on it through all of the proper channels, go for it!