When William Saito was in grade school, he was already learning to program computers. Then he finished high school after only three years, which allowed him to start college early. So, it figures that he would one day be CEO of a tech company which he ran out of his college dorm. That’s Mr. Saito’s story according to his book, “ An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur.”
The book gives a full account of the challenges faced by this brilliant tech entrepreneur who was able to create a company from scratch and sell it to Microsoft. The lessons he learned during those days going back to the 1980’s is what Saito wants to share with the tech entrepreneurs of today.
The principles which he followed are straightforward. For instance, young William built his business around his natural curiosity. From an early age, the young son of Japanese immigrants loved to tinker with things. Eventually, he found himself dismantling computer programs. That is how he developed a profound understanding of how a computer could be encrypted and made more secure. His company I/O, Inc. was a computer encryption company.
Mr. Saito gives the example of how you can’t do it alone. He relied on the help of his friends to create the impression that I/O was a much more significant operation than it was. Without their assistance NEC, one of his early customers might have written him off. Sometimes in tech, you have to fake it until you make it. Even if you are starting out in your garage or basement remember to project a can-do image to your customers.
William Saito seemed never to doubt his ability to succeed. He suggests that the reason for this may be cultural. In the West, there is a tendency to look at failure as a stepping stone to success. In Japanese culture failure is unacceptable. According to Mr. Saito, in Asian culture, you will do whatever it takes not to fail. Tech entrepreneurs may want to push themselves a little harder. It could make all the difference.
Finally, Mr. Saito understands that you need a capable partner. Sometimes all you may have is a million dollar idea. Without input from a reliable partner like Sony, I/O would have never become what it grew to be. The rest is history as they say.