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Apr 15, 2018
“That’s the last one!” Walter exclaimed, spinning around in his desk chair. His sister, Heather, stretched out on his bed and yawned. “Can you be more excited? I sold all four of my start-ups. That’s big news, and I made a decent profit. With this capital, I’ll have plenty to focus on my main goal.”
“Teaching people piano?” Heather scoffed, “How does that make you unique?”
“My new business has three folds: doing one-on-one lessons, helping people teach themselves, and creating music books for beginners. I’m tired of working on boring tech stuff. I want to incorporate something more creative, and this is definitely the right path for me.”
“As long as you stick to it,” she laughed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Heather sat up and patted Walter’s knee. “As your older sister, I know you better than anyone. You’re twenty-seven, still living in your parents’ basement. You’ve made decent money in countless business ventures, but you’ve never stuck it out longer than six months a piece. How do you think you ended up with four sub-par businesses?”
Walter swatted her hand away. “Way to have faith in me. I know I’ve been flaky in the past, but I’m serious this time. I’ve finally found something I’m passionate about. I have a plan for this one. Most of the time, I’ve been winging it, but this plan is too important to give up on. Just trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
Heather stared at him for a minute, then stood. “Okay, if you say this is what you want to do, then I’ll back you up. Don’t forget how much you owe me, though. When do I finally get my investment back?”
“Shh!” he said, jumping up to cover her mouth. “Not so loud! Mom doesn’t know you’ve given me anything. You’re the only one that knows about this idea too. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’m waiting for the right moment. She doesn’t say it, but I know she’s upset I don’t have a ‘real’ job.”
Heather growled and licked his hand. He grimaced and wiped his hand on her sweater. “I believe you when you say you’re serious about this new venture, but what about your social life? You tend to get distracted by your girlfriend and parties.”
“I get your concerns, but everything’s already falling into place. My girlfriend is spending her summer in Greece with her family, and I’m cutting out all alcohol until phase one of my plan is complete. I’m dedicated, Heather, so I hope I have your support.”
“Of course, you do, dummy,” she said, pulling him into a hug.
Over the summer, Walter’s family and friends rarely saw him. He stayed cooped up in his room, on his computer. Phase one involved developing an app that give people a platform to try out playing different instruments with life-like audio. The app also included video tutorials and instruction manuals for reading and writing music.
Next, he developed a software to help him make downloadable music books for piano and guitar where musicians can learn songs and scales. He would also sell paperback copies to increase his chance of reaching his sales goals. Finally, he developed a website to showcase his piano skills and outline what his one-on-one teaching sessions were like.
When phase one was over, so was the summer. He emerged from the basement, and his parents gasped when he came into the kitchen. “You’re alive!” his mother, Vicki, said and squeezed him to her chest. “I’ve barely seen you all summer. I was starting to think you were sick or something.”
“I told you I was working on a project,” he said, voice muffled. He gently pushed his mother back and greeted his father, Martin. “So, what have you guys been up to?”
“We sold the house, but the new owners let us live here still,” Martin said, “Unfortunately, they don’t like squatters living in the basement. You’ll have to move out next week.”
Walter’s eyes widened, then he saw his father grin. “Oh, very funny!” he shouted, playfully punching Martin’s shoulder. “It’s good to know you’re still snarky as ever. It’s not like I haven’t seen you at all. I come up for dinner most nights.”
“It looks like you’ve gained some weight,” Martin replied, “Too much take out.”
Vicki patted Walter’s stomach, and he laughed. “Yeah, I guess I should go running again,” he sighed, “I have something important to tell you first. I’ve been in touch with my old business professor and he’s looking for guest speakers for his upcoming class. He asked me to be one to share my new business venture with them. That’s almost three hundred people!”
“You’re flying back to Massachusetts?” Vicki gasped. “You still haven’t told us what your new business is. Are we not good enough to know?”
“Breathe,” Walter replied, rubbing her back, “I can telecommute to give my presentation. First, I need to practice on someone. Will you be my audience?”
His parents agreed, and that night he showed them his app, website, and music books. Vicki hung on to his every word, and Martin shockingly put down the newspaper to show his interest. Walter thrived on the feedback he received from his parents and was ready for his guest speaker presentation.
The university class’ attention was harder to keep. His heart pounded, and he was glad they could only see his face through the computer. His presentation was displayed on a huge screen in the lecture hall, and he couldn’t afford to make a mistake. He struggled to use interesting language and not sound boring to the students. After he shared his story, and all the information about his products, he had one last trick up his sleeve.
He asked every student to test out the app and website and look through the music books. He sent them the links using the e-mail list his professor sent him. The student’s eyes lit up as they tried out different instruments and created their own songs. When the presentation was over, the students were disappointed they couldn’t continue.
“Don’t worry, everyone,” Walter said, “If you reply to the e-mail I sent you, you can sign up to be a beta tester for an entire month. Send me as much feedback as you can so I can make my products flawless. Thanks for having me Mr. Clark, and good luck to everyone!” He signed off his computer and shouted with delight. “Success!” Then, he ran upstairs for dinner and told his parents how well it went.
When he came back down, his inbox was flooded. The students were thrilled to continue playing on the app, and nearly everyone signed up for the beta test. Word quickly spread about what Walter was brewing. His inbox filled with messages from interested music students wanting to learn from him. He worked with people in person and through Skype to teach piano, and the sales of his books and downloads of his app skyrocketed.
His new business, Music of Passion, became so popular that the local news caught the story. A reporter, Annabel Porter came to his home one day for an interview. They started by talking about what his products were and how he created them.
“Annabel,” Walter said with an ear-to-ear smile, “I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from my family. It’s been a long road, and they’ve put up with a lot from me, but now I’m finally doing what I was meant to do.”
“How do you think today’s technology and the internet have affected your success?” Annabel asked, leaning closer to him on the couch.
“I couldn’t have the influence I do without my website and social media. The core of my products revolves around technology. I don’t think I’d be this successful if I was simply a music teacher. I shoot for the moon, and my aim is horrible, so I always hit farther away than I need to.”
“That’s an interesting way to put it!” Annabel chuckled, “Well, that’s all we have for this budding entrepreneur. Back to you, Sid.”
The cameras turned off, and Annabel and Walter shook hands. “Thanks for coming to my house,” Walter said.
“My house,” Martin piped up.
“Yes, I get that I still live with my parents,” Walter grumbled, shooting his father a dirty look. “I had to sacrifice a lot in my pride, and my girlfriend. Some people just don’t have the patience to wait for greatness.”
“Danielle broke up with you?” Heather asked, sliding in between her brother and the reporter on the couch. “I told you staying in your room for two months was a bad idea.”
“I have all this success and you’re still making fun of me?” Walter asked, punching his sister’s shoulder. “You really don’t want to say I was right. You were waiting for the ‘I told you so’ moment.”Heather grinned, and hugged him, “You’re still young. There’s plenty of time for that.”