It isn’t uncommon to still be searching for your passion in life several decades in. Many of us are still asking ourselves what we want to be when we grow up far into our 30's, 40's and beyond. Some of us, though, find that spark so quickly it is electrifying and it drives us further than anything we ever dreamed.
Brad Dwyer first started programming at an age when many of us hardly knew how to use a computer, and has continued to push boundaries and challenge himself since then. I had the opportunity to chat with Brad about his Des Moines based startup Hatchlings, his background, and why he has decided to call Gravitate home.
Can you start out by telling me a little bit about yourself?
Sure, I'm the founder of Hatchlings, a social gaming startup based here in Iowa. I grew up in Des Moines and went to Iowa State University where I started Hatchlings when I was a sophomore. Hobbies of mine include programming, wake surfing, and sailing.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I've been tinkering with computers as long as I can remember. But my first dabble into programming was in elementary school when I made a rudimentary chatbot in QBasic for a school project. It would ask you questions and you could respond by typing in the command line.
I started a web design company when I was in junior high and thought that it was really cool being able to do work over the Internet without anyone needing to know how old I was. I ended up doing work for Pax TV, Sony BMG, and Charles Schwab (amongst others) and they never even knew they were working with a high school kid!
It was in high school that I put my first personal projects on the web but none of them really took off. It wasn't until college that I had a hit.
What was the most difficult part of starting your own business?
I have so many interests that sometimes it's hard to stay focused on one thing for very long. I can't even count the number of partially completed projects there are sitting on my computer. I tend to mess around with something for a while and move on before finishing it.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Make sure you're not tying how much you make to how much you work.
What is your favorite thing about your team at Hatchlings?
It's been really cool watching our team get better and better at what they do over the years (and also seeing what they do after they leave!)
Why did you choose to be a part of Gravitate?
I love feeling like we are part of a community. Being part of Gravitate lets you work for a small company but still get many of the benefits you'd find in a large corporation.
What is your favorite memory of Gravitate?
The starting story was really amazing. Seeing everyone pull together and make something out of nothing in such a short amount of time was really neat. From the initial concept, to finding a space, to completely gutting and redoing the inside, to moving in only took a matter of months and that's a huge testament to the power of the community.
Where would you like to see the Des Moines startup/tech community in five years? Ten years?
I'd love to see us have some companies get big wins (IPO? Being acquired for billions and billions of dollars?) and have their early employees come full circle and start their own startups, invest in other companies, and give back to the community.
If you could give any advice to someone looking to get into this industry, what would it be?
Make sure you find people who are asking you the tough questions. If everyone's only telling you how awesome your idea is it will be far too late before you find out what the problems with it are. The later in the process you discover the issues the harder it's going to be to solve them.
Where can we get in contact with you?
@braddwyer on Twitter
Are there any big plans on the horizon for Hatchlings?
Of course! But you'll just have to stay tuned to find out what they are.