What I saw was a great opportunity to provide computing technology in a more efficient way. That was the core idea of what became Dell Computer Corporation and that's one we were stuck over ever since.
I started the business with a simple question: how can we make the process of buying a computer better? The answer was: sell the computer directly to the end customers. Eliminate the reseller's markup and pass the savings on to the customers.
It hadn't occurred to me that others hadn't figured it out. I thought it was pretty obvious. I am sure if I had taken the time to ask, plenty of people would have told me that my idea wouldn't work —— I have heard that a lot in the fifteen years since starting the business.
Sometimes it's better not to ask or to listen —— when people tell you something can't be done. I didn't ask for permission or approval. I just went ahead and did it.
On January 2, 1984, I went back to Austin earlier than I would have to attend classes, and I did all the things you need to do to set up a business. I registered the company with the State of Texas as "PC's Limited." I placed ads in the classified section in our local newspaper.
Through my previous contract with customers and the small ads I placed in the paper, I was already getting a lot of business. I was selling between $50,000 to $80,000 upgraded PCs, upgrade kits, and add-on computer components to people in Austin area. Not long after starting the classes I was able to move from a stuffy room that I shared with a roommate to a condominium with high ceilings and two bedrooms. I didn't, however, tell my parents for a few months that I moved.
In early May, about a week before I took my final exam to complete my freshman year, I incorporated the company as "Dell Computer Corporation," doing business as "PC's Limited." We moved the business from my condo to a 1000-square-foot office space in a small business center in North Austin. I hired a few people to take orders over telephone and a few more to fulfill them. Manufacturing consisted of three guys with screwdrivers sitting at six-foot tables upgrading machines. Business continued to grow, and I began to think of what the potential could be if I could devote myself to the venture, full-time.
Where I came from, not going to the college is not an acceptable option. Convincing my parents to allow me to leave school would have been impossible. So I just went ahead and did it, whatever the consequences. I finished my freshman year and left.
After a while, my parents forgave me. And a little bit after that, I forgave them, too.
People asked me now, "Were you scared?" Sure.
But it turned out, the timing for "PC's Limited" couldn't have been better.