One Disrupting Summer: How a Failed Startup Led Rob Townsend to TTech

The semester after I transferred from a local community college into Georgia Tech, I decided to spend my first summer there taking it easy: I’d knock out a couple classes, and in my down time I’d build a startup with some friends.

Wait, what?

Yeah. The summer didn’t end up being too relaxing. Still not sure what I was thinking there. If you could plug into my brain at the moment, you might have heard something like “It can’t be that hard right? I know how to code, I’ll just grab some coffee, knock out a prototype and change the world. What could go wrong?”

A lot, as it turns out. Startups are hard, and we all had plenty to learn. But one of the great things about the CREATE-X, the startup accelerator at GT, was the mentors involved that showed us what each step along the way could teach us. We lived and breathed The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, kept iterating on our product and idea, showing it to potential customers and users, and eventually (slowly, painfully), we got the hang of it.

That startup didn’t end up surviving long past that summer, but those lessons ended up coming in handy anyway. See, Lean methods aren’t only relevant for startup incubators and accelerators. Larger companies can use them too, as I saw through a later internship with CareerBuilder. I was lucky enough to join a team of “intrapreneurs,” folks who operate within a large organization, but function much like a startup. In our case, that meant bringing a new product to market using the same strategies I had been practicing before, only this time with more resources and way less headache!

Together, the two experiences shaped my approach to designing software, which I’d summarize as: make life easier for your users, and never get too caught up in the technical or business challenges to lose sight of that goal.

When I sat down to speak with Richard and Carlos about the mission behind Tyrannosaurus Tech, I found these were points we all agreed on, and I knew we’d make a good fit. I’m excited to be starting here and learning ways we can innovate in Atlanta!

Rob Townsend