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Serial Entrepreneur from Alberta, Canada: Michael Sikorsky, CEO of Robots and Pencils (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 1st 2015

Sramana Mitra: What kind of company did you join?

Michael Sikorsky: It was a supervised control and data acquisition company. They sold software to pipeline companies that wanted to monitor what’s going on across all their pipelines. What is the pressure? What is going on? There is a visualization aspect, remote monitoring, and then there’s a hardware aspect. It actually had 10 to 12 names in the last 15 years because it constantly got rebought. At this time, I had some commercial shareware. I think they liked me because I was already a software person. After school, I’ve already sold shareware. I’ve done commercial software projects. That was my thing. I have always loved software.

So, I joined that firm, and I had a big vision. I was into 3D programming. I had a True Type font support so anyone who’s laying up the visualizations could pick up any font they wanted. Remember, this was way back in 1995. I remember thinking that this was crazy. This was like a job. This was when you had the first versions of things like web CGI. One night, all of this stuff started happening. What I did was I wrote software that showed interesting data points in your pipeline through the web. You can basically monitor your interesting data points. I went and showed it to my boss and his eyes just lit up.

The next day in my cubicle, the President, Vice President of Sales, and Vice President of Marketing came to see the demo. They just wanted to see if this web software was working. If you think about how young I was, I didn’t even realize how powerful the Internet is really going to be in the context of the global economy. This just shocked me. One of the guys couldn’t get in to see my computer. They tried to move the cubicle wall and broke the wall. That was a tell for me that the Internet was amazing and that this was going to be huge. I couldn’t believe that making it easy for people to look at data wherever they are in the world was powerful. That’s essentially what happened. I could feel it in the room.

I was trying to talk to them about how we can do more stuff with the web. They had just finished doing a huge move of the whole technology stack to C++ and spent millions of dollars moving people there. They just didn’t have the appetite. I just said, “Is it cool if I quit. If things don’t work out, maybe I’ll come back?” They loved me. I loved them. They’re a great company. That’s when I quit and started my first company and had no clue about what I was doing.

Sramana Mitra: What year was this and what city were you based in?

Michael Sikorsky: At that time, I was in Calgary, Alberta. That was probably 1996.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Serial Entrepreneur from Alberta, Canada: Michael Sikorsky, CEO of Robots and Pencils
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