History Lessons

Learning Curve

Steve Christini came up with his idea for a mountain bike in college. He had tinkered with ideas since childhood and always had an entrepreneurial bent. "[But] to succeed," he says, "I had to know what I was talking about when I met with other technical people."

Rather than start his company immediately, Christini went to work for Air Products and Chemicals, an industrial gas and chemical company, where, after two years, he became a project engineer and learned everything he could about engineering new products. Last summer, he cut back to part time at Air Products and Chemicals; by October, he went out on his own full time.

Christini was smart to look for jobs that would give him the skills he needed. On-the-job experience gave him the background necessary to develop a great product in a cost-effective manner--something he could never have done otherwise. No matter how impatient you are to get your idea to market, it's worth taking the time to acquire the skills you need.

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: History Lessons.

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