Tech Soft 3D Blog

A 21-Year-Old Start-Up?

Posted by Ron Fritz on Jul 7, 2017 11:11:56 AM

Tech Soft 3D has been around now for 21 years and yet, just last week, someone I was talking to on the phone referred to us as a “start-up”! This has been happening on a pretty regular basis over the last 21 years. At one point it was certainly a true description of the company. But now? With 20 years of profitability and growth, offices around the world, and over 100 employees, we’re far beyond the start-up phase. So what is the threshold? Is it when you go public, or get acquired, or reach a certain annual revenue? It’s puzzling.

But it got me thinking.

Here in the U.S., hitting the age of 21 matters. (Barbarically) it’s when we can finally legally drink alcohol, and while quite a few rights come our way at 18, 21 is more often considered the real threshold into adulthood. A young adult, yes, but an adult nonetheless.

But if it takes a person 21 years to be grown-up, by the time a company is 21 years old, it’s considered quite seasoned. Yet in both cases – for individuals as well as organizations – there is still plenty to be learned by combining the benefits of experience with the qualities of youth.

That’s what we try to do here at Tech Soft 3D and perhaps that’s why, even after 21 years in business, people can still refer to us as a start-up. I like to think it’s because we’ve done a pretty good job of retaining the best parts of youth, including:

  • Curiosity. We know there is far, far more for us to learn – both individually and collectively – and we’re eager to soak it in. 
  • Energy. We’ve all heard tales of octogenarians running marathons. We want to be those folks, never fully capitulating to the myth of aging. If you’re fired up about something, you find the energy for it, no matter your age. 
  • Playfulness. The young of all species spend time playing and having fun. In adulthood, it all just gets so serious and play time tends to decrease. But does it need to? Can’t we take our responsibilities seriously while still seeking out fun wherever it can be found and injecting it into as many situations as possible? 
  • Rebelliousness. It starts early with kids: “why, why, why?” and it continues into young adulthood. At Tech Soft 3D, we stoke that fire as much as we can, asking “why do we do it that way?” and pushing back against the norms – making them prove they still make sense.
  • Appetite for Adventure. Sure, a high tolerance for risk gets some young people in trouble. But they have a lot of fun along the way because they lean heavily toward answering “yes!” or “why not?!” When in doubt, we at Tech Soft 3D choose action. It’s a little more risky, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun than life spent in the safe lane!
  • Idealism. It’s typically the young that push for social change. They’re driven by a desire to change things for the better and to act out of idealistic impulses. For many, that fades as responsibilities mount and we begin to accept the status quo. At Tech Soft 3D, we work to retain a sense of idealism. We want to make the process of developing engineering software better, easier and faster and that’s what drives us – fueling the innovation of others.
Now, as a 50-year-old with two kids in their twenties and another late teen, I’m seasoned enough to know that not everything about youth is to be admired and replicated. There are upsides that come with maturity, both for individuals and organizations. We learn through trial and error which risks and actions are worth it and which are probably not. We understand a bit more deeply our responsibility to others around us. And yet all of us, individuals and organizations alike, would be wise to not treat this as a binary state of either youthfulness or maturity. It can be both, so don’t be afraid to season your experience with a liberal sprinkling of youthful traits.

As for us, we’re going to keep going and see if, at 25, 30, 35 and 40 years into our history, people will still occasionally refer to us as a start-up. I hope so.


Topics: Our culture, Industry Insight, Corporate Culture, Culture

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