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How Our CEO Became an Entrepreneur

I grew up in Sunnyvale CA, which is now the central part of Silicon Valley, during the ’60s amongst the early tech giants like Hewlett Packard and Fairchild Semiconductor. My Dad, John, grew up in NYC where he met my Mom after his service with the U.S. Navy. My Dad as a kid was always fascinated by tinkering with electronic devices growing up so he took advantage of getting his electronic engineering education through the Navy. My Dad was stationed at Treasure Island, which is located across the bridge from Downtown San Francisco. During his days off he would travel south to Sunnyvale to work at odd jobs to make extra money. He immediately noticed how the south part of the Bay Area was entrenched in high-tech startups. After his service, he returned to NYC and married my Mom, and then immediately moved back to the Bay Area to make it their home. Within a month after arriving, they met another married couple who lived on the Stanford University campus who became lifelong friends. They encouraged my Dad to start his own company and helped him start the first TV sales and service company in Sunnyvale, which they called Regent TV, out of his own garage. Eventually, he moved into a retail center when I was around 8 years of age where my Dad engaged me to help him pick up large heavy console-style TV sets from customer homes to be repaired at the shop. When I was around 10 years of age my Dad began to train me how to repair TVs along with being paid, which got me hooked! During this same period, my mother’s family arrived from NYC and my two Uncles started their own auto repair shop together. Since I was the oldest boy in the family, my Uncles asked me to help them repair cars, in between TV repairs, for additional money!

Little did I know I was being groomed to become an entrepreneur! When I turned 12, I began delivering the San Francisco Examiner papers with my bicycle, which was exhausting because their subscriber base was smaller and stretched out for miles. They paid more than the local Mercury News, which was also more popular, but it required returning home more often to restock several times, thus not worth it. I met an older teenager that converted his Schwinn Stingray bicycle into a motorbike which he used to drive himself to high school. So using the skills I learned from my family, I bought that motorbike from him and upgraded the engine to a higher horsepower 2 stoke engine, added a jackshaft gear ratio system, front and back taillights, and improved the braking system and seat so I could deliver newspapers. The skills to achieve this all came from my family's personal training. The biggest problem I had was bumping into the wrong policemen that would not tolerate a twelve-year-old driving without a license and unregistered vehicle. Well, I got away with it for over a year until I got my first moving vehicle citation, with full sirens, lights, and drama, that ended my newspaper career. Fortunately, the juvenile court judge was cool and threw out the case after I promised not to repeat my offense, but it also left me hungry for my next startup venture.

- Tom Quinn



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