The story of a serial entrepreneur from an off-center place, this time Alberta, Canada.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Michael Sikorsky: I was born in Alberta, which is in Canada in 1972. I’m almost 43. I ping ponged between two cities Remington and Calgary. My parents were half trying to be entrepreneurs and half trying to find work. My dad has a fireplace reseller company and my mom had a daycare. My dad actually lost most of the family’s money in the fireplace reseller business. That was an extreme lesson when I was younger. It was a little fuzzy. I don’t think anyone really wants to talk about all the real parts of the story as you get older. I got to see that growing up.
In my brain, I just fell in love with computers. I had worked at fast food restaurants and saved up enough money to buy my first computer. I think I was about 11 or 12 then. That was the thing that changed the course of my life. I totally fell in love with computers. I started to program. I got this computer and I could not believe these things existed. I just wanted to demystify them in every possible way that I could. That’s what led me to becoming a computer engineer at the University of Alberta because then, I had the hardware side and the software side. I felt very happy about it. It felt awesome that I understood the classic computer architecture.
I was always writing software. Prior to the open source theme, people were always sharing software with each other. It was like the equivalent of today’s open source. I remember that being transformative for me. Now, I’m around 17 and was always writing and sharing software. Like in your One Million by One Million, you’re capturing these stories so people can learn from them. People actually commented on my source code and told me things to make it faster and better. Then we had the Internet happening while I was at the University. Everything just exploded because of the Internet becoming mainstream as well.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you finish college?
Michael Sikorsky: 1995.
Sramana Mitra: What happens next?
Michael Sikorsky: I finished college and I got my first job. I was really grateful that I got my first job because my parents didn’t have a lot of money. I had never been on an airplane. In my very first job, I was flying. They actually picked me up in a limousine. That totally worked me. I got to join the research and development arm of the company. At this time, I had done a lot of programming on my own.