Let Success Find You


By Dean Dieker

[Dean is a Startup Institute Alum] 

In the past 6 years I have been co-founder of a Y-Combinator startup, systems engineer working on intelligent landmines, heatshields, and lasers, a program director and instructor at a Karate school, a trapeze catcher, and a web developer at Startup Institute Boston.

Each of these experiences has served to validate one core concept; namely, that the best opportunities come from the unmeasured and unbridled application of passion.

It was the summer following my Junior year at Olin in 2006, and I found myself working in a startup that I had co-founded with some of my best friends from college. My friends were all studying computer science at Olin in some form, and they had told me about an opportunity to found a company using seed money from Y Combinator. I loved working with my friends and programming in Python (despite the fact that I had no CS background save a single software design class), so for a summer we all ate, drank, and dreamt about Python, Pylons, Amazon XML files, and e-commerce. 

Eventually I had to graduate, and I ended up sitting next to someone on a plane who had a movie that I loved. I started talking with her about it, and she ended up being the VP for a defense contractor. Being interested in the defense industry, I jumped on the opportunity and secured an internship, and my first job. I learned that you could be okay doing what might be considered mundane work if the products were really cool, but also learned that a big corporation might not be the best place for me.

A passion I’ve had my whole life has been martial arts, so I found a local Karate school and started training after work, and engaged the owner in discussions about how he got his business started and was able to run it as a full-time profession. Two years later I found myself with a full-time job offer and spent the next three years wearing all the hats of a small business as well as changing the lives of our students through Karate, as a full-time Program Director and Instructor.

Recently, it was time for a career pivot, so I jumped back onto programming and started learning Ruby and Rails. At a Rails Meetup at Thoughtbot I bumped into Evan Morikawa, also an Olin alum, who connected me with Aaron, one of the Startup Institute founders. I met with Aaron and shared how excited I was to be able to use technology to have global impact and reach, and by the end of our meeting I was excited to have been invited to the inaugural class of the Startup Institute Boston.

I’m not sure where I will end up in a few months, but I will get there by following my passion. I get passionate about what I’m doing and success finds me, and I’m confident that if you follow your passion and are open to possibilities, great things will happen!