Apple co-founder, Steve Woznaik recently gave a presentation at a Communitech technology breakfast event last week held in Kitchener. Woz has been giving a lot of presentations lately to help promote his new business venture Fusion-io. Woz and Fusion-io CTO David Flynn shared the stage promoting the company’s service which replaces data centers traditional disk drives with flash memory chips. The flash memory is more reliable, consumes less electricity and is faster than disk drives.
While much of the talk was focused on promoting Fusion-io Woz provided his take on what made Apple so successful and provided a few tips for aspiring entrepreneurs. He stressed the importance of human interaction in the success of any product, “These days, that almost always boils down to the user interface and how you interact with the machine using your hands, your eyes, your senses, your muscles”. Simplicity and ease of use played a large role in the success of early Macintosh computers.
A good mind for finance is another must have for new businesses which Woz confesses he did not possess; he gave away the schematics for the Apple 1 computer for free so that others could build it. When he developed the computer he was working for HP and tried to get the company interested in building a personal computer, they rejected him five times. “That was strange, but anyway, HP would have done it wrong, because it wouldn’t have had the colour and the games and the fun”, he said. Luckily Woz had Steve Jobs to build a company around the computer; Woz said Jobs was “good at finding ways of turning things into money”. Woz also credits angel investor Mike Markkula as playing a crucial role in Apple’s early days. Markkula advised against pricing Apple’s products too low, when a company grows it requires high profit margins to avoid borrowing too much money.
Woz also echoed the popular advice that recessions are great times to build a business, especially if the company has a “hot product”. All sound advice from one of the founding fathers of the personal computer revolution.