Michael Dell took a leap of faith in 1984 when he dropped out of UT and founded Dell Computers. “It was a very personal decision,” said Dell as he further explained making the decision to follow an idea that he felt was promising.
Dell, a Houston native, spoke on March 6 during an interview moderated by UT Entrepreneur in Residence and co-founder of BazaarVoice, Brett Hurt. The session was hosted by UT Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency (UT LEA) and the McCombs Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship as part of UTEWeek.
Dell Computers found success quickly, as predicted by Dell, “For the first nine months, the company had revenues of about $6 million,” said Dell. In the second year, Dell Computers grew to $33 million in revenue.
Although he dropped out of UT, Dell is glad to have the 40 Acres close by, “If you find any great company in the world you will find a great university nearby. We’re very fortunate to have UT nearby,” said Dell. He has hired many graduates of the university and believes UT is part of what attracts people to Austin.
Dell has given back to the city of Austin and UT in various different ways since founding Dell Computers. Last year, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation donated $60 million to start the Dell Medical School at UT. “I was supposed to be a doctor, so I figured I could do the next best thing: a medical school,” joked Dell.
When asked about the climate currently surrounding entrepreneurship, Dell responded positively, “A great thing we have in this country, is that we have a culture that accepts and embraces risk,” said Dell. “There really hasn’t been a better time to be alive in the world. This is a fantastic place. It’s hard to imagine a better place to be.”