Maurílio de Jesus, 20What helped you become a great entrepreneur?
BillIt’s very valuable to have confidence that you can understand something, if you try hard enough. It's easy to get discouraged. Like when you start a business, there are all these financial questions to figure out, with a lot of special terminology. But if you have reasonable math skills, and you seek out the people who can explain these things, it's really not that complicated. You need to be willing to ask, “Hey, what do these things mean?” The real experts are the ones who can explain.
For example, one big concept in business is the time value of money. That's kind of complex, but Warren Buffett explains it as “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” A simple proverb explains the key principle of business.
Enjoying learning, finding people who can help you, and just persevering when something appears too complicated – that was very helpful to me.
Nengneilam HaokipWhy did you leave Harvard University?
BillI loved college. It was so exciting to have conversations with lots of really smart people my age and to learn from great professors. But in December of 1974, when my friend Paul Allen showed me the issue of Popular Electronics that had the Altair 8800 on the cover, we knew it was the beginning of a major change. The Altair was the first minicomputer kit that came with Intel’s 8080 microprocessor chip.
For a while, Paul and I had been talking about how that chip would make computers affordable for the average person someday. We had the idea that this would create huge opportunities to write really interesting software that lots of people would buy. Once the Altair 8800 came out, we wanted to be among first to start a business to write software for this new generation of computers. We were afraid if we waited, someone else would beat us to it.
It was a hard decision and I know my parents had their concerns. And while I would never encourage anyone to drop out of school, for me, it turned out to be the right choice.