At 14, Marcin Kleczynski accidentally downloaded a virus into his parents’ computer, which was supposed to have been protected with anti-virus software. So he set about to understand how something like that could happen and launched his career in one of the tech industry’s hottest areas.
While he was in high school in Bensenville, Ill., near Chicago, he taught himself computer programming and learned everything he could about hackers. By the time he was 18, he was racking up millions of dollars in sales from his college dorm room with his new company, Malwarebytes. And today – roughly 10 years after infecting that computer – his San Jose, Calif.-based cybersecurity firm is making a profit, doubling its annual sales and boasts 141 employees, with positions open for another 40 people.
The Polish-born Kleczynski recently talked about how he started his business at such a young age; the interview has been edited for length and clarity.
I didn’t have $300 to go to Geek Squad or Staples or an office-repair center. So I went on Google and typed in my symptoms. I stumbled upon a website where a group of volunteers would help people online with their computer problems. Somebody came to my rescue not more than three hours later, but it took three days to fix my computer.