Leave IBM. Start a Dotcom. Get ‘the Road Ahead’ Life.

Version 4

    In 2001 spring, when the job market is gloom and doom after Internet stocks crashed, I was fired by IBM when the whole department in my city was trimmed. I panicked. I called my ex-manager to see if he had a job for me. This manager had hired me into IBM and left IBM and headed to Nokia for a higher position three months after I joined IBM. He told me that most companies were not hiring at this time.

    I called a friend in Citibank New York office and asked him, 'now where do I go from here'? I had always whined and complained to him about my miserable life at IBM. 'Do something you truely like and be determined to make money from it', he said.

    Before I joined IBM, I had been working on my idea MyCapital.com, an Internet company that matches entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. This unfinished web site is part of the reasons that IBM took me even I am a business major and had zero working experiences in the IT field.

    Since I had nothing to do and trying to find a job seemed to be a waste of time, I started working on MyCapital.com again. I checked with several web design company. They gave me a quote from $3,000 to half a million dollars for only front-end graphic design and html coding. I complained about this to my friends. One day as I was browsing on the Net to find a web designer, I was linked from here to there, and finally I landed eLance.com.

    At eLance.com, with $660, I hire a team of two Indian programmers to develop a database and all programming functions. Then with another $500, I hired a designer in Atlanta, GA to produce the first graphic version of MyCapital.com. I wrote the web copywriting myself and hired a MBA student at UCLA to polish it since I am not a native English speaker. With a $50 investment in Yahoo! Search Marketing (then Overture), I made $200 dollars at first month we officially launched MyCapital.com in April 2003.

    I was very happy with my two hundred dollars revenue since it proved that someone is willing to pay for our products and that our pricing is acceptable. With this small success, I increased my budget in Yahoo! Search Marketing and signed up with Google! AdWords. I also installed a monthly improvement plan, improving our website's products and features everyday. Our website revenues had since growing stably every month.

    Insisting on working on MyCapital.com wasn't easy. From 2002 to 2003 when the website was in the middle of development, there was no revenue and there were only expenses. Sometimes I went to a jobsite and felt safe at the moment I sent out two or three resumes. It was like taking an anti-anxiety pill to soothe my nerves. I had worked as a trade reporter for the prestigious law firm White & Case LLP and had have a steady $700 paycheck from White & Case every month which I can use to pay for my basic living expenses. I wore T-shirts and shorts and worked from my home office everyday, giving instruction to my teams in India and E. Europe via email and Skype. Once in a while, I wore my $1,400 Donna Karan gray business jacket that I bought in Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills and dine in restaurants just to feel good about myself. My Donna Karan jacket gave me a sense of success. I saw eyes of envy at a time when many people were unemployed. It seemed that they envied that I had a job.

    My determination to make this website works finally pays off. From 2003 to today, MyCapital.com has been stably growing. I paid off my $20,000 credit card bill and $15,000 personal loan that I used to finance the start-up. Today, I can walk into premium banking corner of the bank and instructed my financial advisor to place an order of $30,000 to buy a mutual fund. My daily tasks still primarily consists of writing instructions and emailing them to my teams everywhere in the world - India, E. Europe, and USA. But now I do it either when I am in Southern France or in Gold Coast Australia, gazing into the Pacific Ocean from a 23rd floor one-bedroom holiday apartment. I read the book 'The Road Ahead' by Bill Gates in 1998 and imagined myself living that kind of life. Ten years after, I am glad I make it: I can bring my laptop and work anywhere in the world.