Wednesday, June 17, 2009

American Ingenuity

At the turn of the century (2000),Tulsa native Nathan Seidle started work on his electrical engineering degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder. His junior year, a programmer for Nathan's microprocessor project burned out, and he searched for a suitable replacement for it. In his quest, Nathan discovered a dearth of resources to purchase electronic parts in small quantities. For students like him, who design and develop prototypes, small quantities are a good thing.

The Plato quote - necessity, who is the mother of invention - came into play to fill this void in the marketplace. During his junior year in college, Nathan maxed out his credit cards and built a website to cater to customers - the designers, the developers, the hobbyists - like him. Thus, SparkFun began in January 2003, run out of his room.

By the time this electrical engineer graduated in 2004, SparkFun had grown to support Nathan full-time and another employee. As Nathan told his story to the 2009 EntConnect conference, he now has 27 employees and does business in 100 countries.

There are so many lessons here for writers. Finding a need, building a platform, and going for it like Nathan did, maxing out his credit cards and just doing it. And in the mean time growing your business and having fun!

Related links:

EntConnect website:


Photos from

Electronic Board:


  1. Nathan is an inspiration, Susan! I'm not ready to max out all my cards yet, but his story shows that if you can find a need and fill it, you can be successful.

  2. Thanks, Denise. I can sure do the maxing out the credit card thing, but I doubt I'm ready to get to results that Nathan got. :) Susan