When 25-year-old Brad Wardell began developing software for an OS/2 computer game in 1993, nobody had ever sold any games for this operating system. At the time, software developers just didn't see any real market for them. But Wardell had an idea: a new space-based strategy game called Galactic Civilizations. He'd been hanging out in Internet newsgroups discussing his concept with fellow OS/2 users, and many couldn't wait to try their hands at it. So War-dell, convinced that OS/2 was becoming a mainstream operating system, began developing the game in hopes the market would expand.
Turns out, he was right: Today, 8 percent of the world's PCs run on IBM's OS/2 platform. What's more, Wardell's Canton, Michigan-based company, Stardock Systems Inc., expects sales of $3.5 million this year and has a strong foothold in the OS/2 software market.
Was Wardell's venture a lucky guess? Perhaps. Yet, in many ways, it's not really surprising so many small technology-based companies like Wardell's are finding seemingly sudden success. On the contrary, myriad marketplace indicators point to the fact that all systems are go for today's start-up technology companies. An alignment of the entrepreneurial planets, if you will, is making the climate riper than ever for starting or growing a high-tech business.
"There has never been a better time to start a technology-based business," says Mark Rice, assistant dean of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (RPI) Lally School of Management and Technology and director of RPI's entrepreneurship center in Troy, New York. "All the necessary ingredients are becoming more abundant, and the opportunities to pursue [such a business] are becoming more plentiful."