Ken Arnold is a consultant, author, engineer, and professor at San Diego State University, where he teaches a wide variety of courses such as programming and embedded systems. Aside from starting multiple companies in the past, he founded HiTechEdventures.org, whose purpose is to connect motivated students and potential employers, by providing work-for-hire consulting services. Students have the opportunity to work on client’s projects while they’re enrolled and working toward their degree.
STRATEGIES USED TO FUND BUSINESS
When I first started as an entrepreneur, I hired my friends to do consulting work for companies and bootstrapped the entire thing. I paid them depending on the money I was getting from the companies. At the time, the best jobs were going for $1-2 an hour and they were getting $4 an hour. It was a win-win-win situation.
DESCRIBE A MOMENT WHEN YOU FELT LIKE GIVING UP
One of the biggest ones was when I had just jumped off and started the business. The large company I had worked for had a health plan. My son had become ill when he was born and had substantial hospital bills. It turns out there was a limit on how much the hospital paid out. All of the sudden the hospital gave all the money back to the insurance company. The company said they weren’t going to pay money that was over the limit, and I was forced to spend tens of thousands of money to cover the cost. That was all the money that I was going to spend on advertising and all sorts of business stuff. Family first.
My favorite success is the HiTechEdVentures program because it’s something that I feel addresses a direct need and it solves a problem so many of my students had. Good students are not able to get jobs because they couldn’t even get an interview because they didn’t have any paid experience to put on their resume. I feel proud to start that because none of the people that have called me back have said, “Ken, I couldn’t find a job or get an interview.”
I’d say my primary strength is simply that I try to be creative in finding different solutions to problems that people have used the standard solutions for.
Bureaucracy, definitely. I’ve always had trouble with big companies and big organizations. What really grinds my gears is the bureaucreatic BS that prevents people from doing what needs to be done.
IF YOU CAN HAVE ANY SUPERPOWER
If I had any superpower it would be to inform people widely of really important things that they’re not aware of.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE OR APP
Doodle: The scheduling tool you’ll actually use
WHAT IS YOUR STARTUP LIFE HACK?
If you’re in an environment where you get interrupted a lot, you spend a lot of that time trying to get back to what you were doing. One of the recommendations is to find a place where you can work uninterrupted and focus on the task at hand. You will accomplish more if you implement this simple hack.