When we first interviewed Anthony Broussard in 2010, he was 17 years old, had founded Quantum Potato Software and was developing games for the iPhone. He started programming at eight years old, worked for GoPets in Seoul when he was 17, was recruited to work on a MMOG in Sydney when he as 19, made it back to the States and he’s still at it. Russ catches up with the child genius we first interviewed 6 years ago. Arcades are making a comeback and along with his app development business this bright guy is all over it.
Anthony Broussard – Coder; Quantum Potato Software; firstname.lastname@example.org
Video and Full Interview Text
Russ: Welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show. My guest today: Anthony Broussard, Coder extraordinaire. Anthony, welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show.
Anthony: Thanks Russ, it’s great to be here.
Russ: You bet. So, I say welcome back because you were on this show in January of 2010; six and a half years ago. But I got that right, weren’t you into iPhone game coding at the time?
Anthony: That’s right, yeah. Doing a lot of stuff, I’ve been doing iPhone games and other game platforms as well.
Russ: Ok, and when you were doing it then you were extremely young for doing it, but you got started coding at a fairly young age, right?
Anthony: Right. I actually started programming at eight years old.
Russ: Eight years old. Ok, how did you know what you were doing at eight years old?
Anthony: Well, I didn’t really, but I actually heard extended family complain about their jobs and I thought, oh I don’t want to do that when I grew older, so I thought I wanted to be a game designer and then that became game programmer.
Russ: Ok, really interesting, but along the way it seems like you just kept stair stepping up into the complexity of coding, worked for a major Houston mobile app company, ChaiOne, for a few years? Gaurav Khandelwal over there.
Anthony: Yes, and I’ve been doing follow up contract work with them as well.
Russ: Ok, but eventually you ended up leaving Houston, right?
Anthony: Yeah. I left Houston to come to Chattanooga for a startup accelerator.
Russ: Ok. So, to be part of a startup accelerator or help the startup accelerator? Or Both?
Anthony: Yeah, I met some people at Houston’s Hackerspace where I took classes and also taught some programming classes there, and they were working on this new company idea. We were trying to do equity based crowdfunding for musicians. So, you could have an album and I could pitch in 20 bucks and buy shares and then that would come around and you would sell the album and I would get a cut of it. Very complicated, much more complicated than what we expected, but I ended up loving Chattanooga, and Charlie Brock with Launch Tennessee was directing it and he was like, ‘hey, you’re great here. The staff loves you and you can come work here anytime.’
Russ: Wow, so you were working for the accelerator?
Anthony: So, I was there with the company, and then afterwards I decided that I didn’t want to go back to an office job, and started freelancing.
Russ: Ok, and you’ve been in Chattanooga now for four or five years now? (Anthony: Yes.). Ok, so what kind of projects today are most intriguing to you that you like to tackle?
Anthony: The most intriguing. This might take a second to answer, cause I’ve worked on some really cool things lately. I’ve been doing some neat work with, done a couple point of sale systems recently and that’s been interesting. I’ve been, I can’t go into any detail, but I’ve done some subcontracting for the US military, and that’s been pretty exciting to see.
Russ: Well that’s good that you’re on our side, goodness.
Anthony: Yeah. That’s been fun, and Dan and I are currently, I just started teaching myself Erlang and Elixir. They’re these programming languages that are, Erlang is actually kind of old, invented by telecom companies awhile back, but now a lot programmers, and a lot of programmers I worked with in Houston that I respect are like, ‘hey this is the future. I want you to learn this.’ So, I’m like, I’ll check that out.
Russ: Ok, well roll back a bit. You said a couple of point of sale things. Why would somebody need a customized point of sale program today when there’s probably so many off the shelf and ready to go?
Anthony: Yeah, so they are a few off the shelf, and the things I saw, I do some work for some off the shelf, but also people have some customized needs for them. The thing about programming is that there’s often a lot of templates and existing products out there, but there’s always going to be some niche or something where we need this solution and what’s on the market just doesn’t have it.
Russ: Right, ok. So, I’m curious, you’re kind of, you’re really an independent programmer today. I mean, when people need something extra difficult they come and find Anthony. How do they find you? How do you get business?
Anthony: All my work so far, I’ve been programming professionally for eight years now; two at ChaiOne, and then six as a contractor. All of my work has been through referrals. Satisfied customers and people who have worked with me.
Russ: Ok, so I’m curious, in all business there’s always sort of this supply/demand thing that’s out of kilter. Sometimes do you find yourself suddenly with nothing to do that brings in money? And vice versa, sometimes you are like, man, I’m booked up and I would love to do this,
Anthony: It happens. Yeah, there’s definitely an ebb and flow. Sometimes there are lulls, and those are actually kind of nice. I get to work on, like learning Erlang and Elixir, or recently I’ve been experimenting with, I want to call it crowd play games that I haven’t really seen done before, so.
Russ: Crowd play games, ok. So describe that. I mean, I know about these games now that people go to stadiums to watch play and stuff, so that’s not what you’re talking about though.
Anthony: Well, yeah I think that’s really cool that people are doing that now, but to me, I feel like what’s going on right now is, those are taking existing games and putting them on the screen. Right now, you don’t really have any kind of interaction with that on the screen (Russ: Right, you just watch.), right. There’s been a few really interesting innovations in that where you could be watching that and interact with it through a chat program. There’s a game called Upsilon Circuit being developed right now, which has people on a game show, and the crowd can watch, and if someone loses in the game show, a crowd member gets chosen to play and continue, and that fascinates me. So right now I’m actually working on multiplayer Pong, like the old, with the paddle and the ball, where I have a really basic prototype working where you can have a projector up, and have the paddles move, and you and I could connect with our phones, and we have two buttons moving up and down, and after we press those buttons we see those paddles moving in real time. But that can be 10 people, or 20 people.
Russ: So meaning there would be 10 or 20 paddles?
Anthony: Right. And there are lots of balls going around.
Russ: It’s kind of like volleyball, I guess.
Anthony: Yeah, yeah. And I’m really interested in making games that people can play in public spaces, so like at arcades. There’s been a, there’s a decline in the arcade scene as home consoles came out, but now there’s a lot of people who are playing games at home who are like, ‘man, I really miss being out in public and seeing people.’ And we’re seeing this rise of arcades again now.
Russ: Real interesting. So, I’ve always thought this about you, that you’re so into what you do. If you look at it as a business person, you know, what percentage of the work that you do earns you money versus just earns you satisfaction?
Anthony: That’s a great question. Wow, that’s a great question. So, it’s interesting that, so most of my time does go, I would say probably 70% or so towards making money. And that’s programming, that’s reviewing specifications, that’s meeting with clients, all that (Russ: Right. All aspects of it.). And then other, the other 30% I’d say is my own development. However, the stuff that I, in experimenting in new languages, for example, I will get better about thinking about problem solving, and I can apply that to my client work. And video games are notoriously difficult to build, and I’ve had to learn a lot doing so, and I’ve learned a lot more complex programming patterns like, oh, this is going to make my client work easier. So, it looks like 70/30%, but ideally it’s closer to 90 or 100% eventually as everything sort of feeds back.
Russ: Alright, well Anthony I really appreciate you visiting with us. We need to do this again before six years go by (Anthony: Definitely.) to see what you’re working on, but thank you so much.
Anthony: Thank you, Russ. I appreciate it.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Anthony Broussard. And this is The BusinessMakers Show.