Six Months of Startup, Living the Dream . . . Well, Almost

by Garret Meier

Hey there, how are you this fine day? I sure hope you’ve had a wonderful summertime full of adventure because I sure have, and I’m excited to tell you all about it!

First I’ll let you know a little bit about who I am. I’m Garret Meier, a Sophomore in Software Engineering from Billings, MT (whew, getting the classic spiel out of the way), I love clouds, and I have a passion for startups. I’ve spent the last three months working out of one of my friend’s living rooms, trying to make our dream of creating an independent game development company a reality. Now, it’s not all stereotyped programmers starting a company, we did manage to see the sun exactly twice over the past few months which is exactly two more times than than the founders of Apple saw during their first summer (I’ve been told).

The company, called Square Infinity, has been in the works for six years, but this is the first time we’ve possessed the time and skills necessary to actually get it off the ground (hopefully). The rebirth of Square Infinity sort of began back in January when it suddenly arose out of the piles of homework and general college stress. The three other founders (Andy, David, and Ivan because I like using names) and myself decided that now was as good a time as any to start the arduous journey towards making our shared dream a reality. So, we all made plans to avoid internships for the summer in favor of working for ourselves. This was a tough task in itself, with ever-present pressure to ‘get a real job’ that arises in college. Nonetheless we all decided to make games and call it a real job.

From there everything was rainbows and unicorns and we became successful, right? Well, spoiler alert, that’s not how it works. The trouble with working for yourself is that there’s no one to tell you what to work on, and in turn no one to tell you when to stop. The latter is more often my problem. As a result, we’ve all spent more than a few days this summer buried in our project for over 12 hours.

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Along the way, I’ve also been working with Professor Joseph Zambreno at Iowa State on a ‘research’ project (started through the Honors Program)which is actually creating a game. I know, I can’t really escape game development. As much as this might sound like a lot of work, I really have been living my dream this summer, spending time working with my best friends, doing exactly what I love about software engineering.

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Even though the summer is coming to a close, we are ever closing in on a release-ready game, and I am excited to move into a fall spent in Des Moines interning at a real life successful startup company. Through this whole experience, if there was one piece of advice I would give, it’s don’t be afraid to be unconventional. From what I’ve seen, many college students follow the traditional path of studying in fall and spring and taking the summers to look for internships at large, well-established companies, but I’d encourage thinking a bit outside the box in regards to your college experience. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and pursue an idea you’re passionate about or intern when you’d normally be in school. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself and your chosen field. I know I’ve learned more this summer working through programming in a plethora of languages than I would have as a lowly intern at a major company.

If you want to hear more about my company, Square Infinity, or our game TravelQuest (a mobile game that uses your geographic location to make road trips a game), check out blog.squareinfinity.com, follow me on twitter, or just send me an email (ghmeier@iastate.edu).

Have a beautiful summer and keep your head in the clouds!

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