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Bootstrapping for 30 Years: Dean Guida, CEO of Infragistics ( Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, Jul 10th 2021

Dean Guida: When I graduated from school, I moved up to New York City because I wanted to work for all the smart people. There is a lot of money in New York City. I started my company when I was 23. It was 1989. All the smart people like Microsoft and these other companies were in New York.

I was a freelance consultant. I first had a job with GE Consulting. I was very young, so they were saying; “We can’t hire you with the rates we hire. You are just too young.” I said, “Look, I am really good. I love writing software. Wherever you put me, I’ll not only do a good job but I will also get more consultants here for you.”

They gave me a shot and wherever I went, I did a great job. I got more consultants in for them. After three months working for them, they had me doing all their tech interviews. I will never forget this one guy that I had interviewed. He was saying, “I have a kid your age. I am not answering your question.” I was like, “If you don’t answer my questions, fine. You are not going to get the job.” They eventually answered my questions.

I also worked down in Wall Street for a while working for insurance companies and banks. I worked for IBM for a while as a freelance consultant. I was at AIG at 99 John Street. I was on the best team. A lot of times back then I was on big teams where two or three people did all the work. This was fine with me because I love writing software. It was different at AIG. Everyone on the team was amazing.

I met my partner there. We went on to found Infragistics. The other team members went on to found LogicWorks, They made ERwin – a popular database administration in the 90s. It was an amazing team experience. Back then we had the first data general laptop computer. I was on the PC side, writing the application in C code. We wrote this transactional database. Our backend was the mainframe.

Sramana Mitra: Was this a software services company that you were doing projects for people?

Dean Guida: At AIG, we were building enterprise systems for their agents. But when I was a freelance consultant, I mainly worked on enterprise systems. 

Sramana Mitra: You said you founded Infragistics at this point. I am a little bit lost on the chronology of what we are talking about right now. 

Dean Guida: I was going to get right into that. I was going to tell you what influenced our first product. At AIG, we were working on this framework. Windows 2.0 was just out. We decided to create a framework for application developers to build and screen data validations and database connections. That was our first product. For the first year, I wasn’t working full time.

I was a consultant at IBM and my partner Don was working full time on it. Our first office was out of his mom’s house. We hired a woman to answer the phone. We sat at Don’s mom’s bedroom just to look big. Don just coded in his bedroom. I coded during the day to make money for both of us and then I coded all night with Don. I was not full-time during the first year of Infragistics. 

This segment is a part in the series : Bootstrapping for 30 Years

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