Two Freshman Entrepreneurs Put Computer Careers on Hold

Student Snapshot

When Evan O. Grossman 87 and Roy G. Niederhoffer '87 began their computer company as high school sophomores, they discovered that not everything was ready to accept two teenagers is business partners.

"We wanted to take Master Card and Visa mail charges for our software catalog items." Grossman explains. "The Master Card man was kind of surprised when he came to a house and was asked into the living room by a 14-year-old," he recalls.

But despite the man's reaction, they were given permission to accept the credit cards for mail orders, and went on to overcome many other obstacles confronting teenage entrepreneurs.

While the pair has since retired they've left their mark on the computer game market-more than 450 of their programs are on sale at stores such as Sears K-Mart and Woolworth's.



The Great Neck, N Y natives formed their first company, Software Innovations, in 1980. After building up a mailing list of more than 3,000 computer owners, they decied to expand To raise money, they sold shares in the firm to teachers and friends, and borrowed funds from their families.

"We always made sure our shareholders were smaller than we were'. Niederhoffer says, adding, "Anybody else might have heat us up if the dividends were late."

With the additional money, Grossman and Niederhoffer were able to produce a '6-page mail-order catalog that listed.

programs made by themselves, friends, and other companies.

"For just a little more money, we could get a lot more catalogues, so we ordered 7500. Roy still has a thousand lining his garage," Grossman says.

The freshmen have kept more than surplus catalogues; they are, friends say, average freshmen.

"Evan's worked really hard to avoid the stereotypical image of what a computer junkie's supposed to be," says his roommate, William B. Canterbury '87.

"He throws good parties," says Bradley H. Boyer '87, another roommate, adding. "He knows so much about computers that he helps me when I need it in CS II (an introductory computer class.)"

And says Niederhoffer's Wigglesworth suitemate, David A. Angel '87. "I'd never have known about his business if I hadn't happened to read an article lying around our room. He doesn't make a big deal of it."

Grossman, says his proctor, "handles his success in a very mature way." Third-year medical student Richard Z. Kaplan, who is also Grossman's academic advisor, adds, "You would never know this kid had such success."