As I prepared for my interview with Mr. Swindle, I remember trying to figure out what Fippex does. The site's video helped to define the company's big picture but it was not until I read the case studies that things made sense. But the problem wasn't that I didn't know much about Fippex, I didn't know anything about the tech startup world. I learned a lot very quickly.
I send files via the cloud and use apps on my iPod nearly everyday. They are convenient tools that I take advantage of, whether for work or leisure, without thinking of their history. Someone came up with these ideas, people invented this technology, it came from somewhere. It wasn't until I came to Fippex and started paying attention did I realize all of the innovation happening around the world yet right in front of my face. Ideas are everywhere. Since the beginning of the age of technology, just about everything has been at our fingertips: electronic mail, all of our music, texting, video chatting, etc. And now, everyday people are becoming entrepreneurs to bring what's at our fingertips even more comfortably to the palm of our hands. Pretty soon, toddlers who've just learned to read will be able to trade stocks on their iPads designed for 2-5 year olds. I say that jokingly, but really, who knows? I mean, one of my brother's friend's company just raised over $1 million from Google Ventures for their app that lets you pick the music played at bars. The idea of apps has empowered any “Wouldn't it be cool if...” thought to become a reality. My university has an app to track campus shuttles. Everything is convenient.
The one issue I take with all of this convenience is the cliché argument that it is making people lazier and complacent. Had I not started at Fippex, I'd still be on that bandwagon to a certain extent. But spending time immersing myself in this world of tech startups has opened my eyes to a very different perspective. Allow me to simply state that it takes a colossal amount of determination, willpower, and diligence to take one of those “Wouldn't it be cool if...” thoughts and turn it into a tangible product, especially because not many succeed. I read an article that said startups have an 8% chance of success. I joke with my friends that getting a 50% on a test is a better average than Ted Williams ever had. 8% is not an encouraging statistic, but this is where you separate the inspired from those just browsing. The inspired don't work 9 to 5, they get to the office before 9, eat lunch at their desk while continuing their work, and leave when the work is done, not when the clock says to go home. I don't know what the just browsing's day looks like because I've yet to see it at this office.
I've read articles that declare Chicago to be the new Silicon Valley. In my eyes, Chicago is the new Chicago, we are a different breed. It is still my first month at Fippex so I think it's an understatement to say that I have encyclopedias worth to learn about just about everything. But from what I've realized, an idea turned into Google, Apple, Microsoft. These companies all started as ideas and passions whose creators had the drive to see them into the world. That is the part I find motivating, the “what if” factor. There's no reason that my idea can't be a part of that 8% or even drive the success rate up to 9%. The inspired believe in themselves and their passions.
Than Rossoff is the Intern at Chicago-based startup, Fippex.