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Kenneth Ham’s real estate tech career started with TI-82 calculator games

By February 26, 2015 No Comments

Lead developer and architect, Balcony

Time at Balcony: Six months

What he does: My job is to fully realize the Balcony platform, which includes our Web product, mobile app, vendor integrations, as well as development that targets social media and marketing.

Age: 31

Degree, school: MS in computer science, Texas A&M University at Kingsville

Location: Corpus Christi, Texas

Social media: LinkedIn and Twitter

I got started in programming when I was about 12 years old. My school required that all students own a TI-82 graphing calculator, and when I saw that people were making games that could play on these devices, I was hooked.

Over the next couple of years, I wrote my own games, as well as a bunch of math software for doing geometry and trigonometry calculations on the calculator. When I entered high school, I made some money on the side creating websites for local businesses, and I started to pick up desktop development. When I went to college, I started up an eBay business using software I wrote to communicate with buyers, automatically send and solicit feedback, and print shipping labels en masse (this was before eBay had an application programming interface).

Since I’ve been out of college, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a lot of different industries, and I really enjoy working with real estate technology since it is so people-oriented. I also think that the climate of the real estate industry is ideal for startups because there are many obvious inefficiencies that provide opportunities to build the right solution. This was a big reason why I wanted to join Balcony; I felt our software solves a major unmet need in real estate by helping agents manage and get paid on their referrals with ease.

A big challenge for us early on was to bring our product to market quickly while keeping costs down. By hosting our Web app in the cloud, we were able to quickly develop and deploy our beta software with no upfront hardware costs while also keeping maintenance costs to a minimum. This also allowed us to quickly scale up the resources we dedicated to our online platform as we began to roll out our product to our private beta group.

Kenneth Ham's desk.

Kenneth Ham’s desk


Favorite movie?

“The Matrix.”

What is your favorite food?

I’ve been raised on Tex-Mex, so I really enjoy cheese enchiladas, flour chips, salsa and homemade tortillas. My family ordered a huge pan of cheese enchiladas for Christmas several years ago, and we ended up eating it over the course of several weeks every day … and it was amazing.

What is your favorite video game?

When I was in high school, I liked playing a game called “SimCity 2000.” The basic premise of the game is that you are a city planner and you have to build and grow a city while making sure you keep your citizens happy. A lot of people find it to be tedious, but it reminds me a lot of development in that you have to manage many moving parts at once while also keeping an eye out for the details. Most recently, I play whatever my daughter, Bella, wants to play, which has been “Super Smash Brothers,” the “Kirby” series and “Portal 2.”

What is your favorite city?

Our family really enjoys visiting Fredericksburg, Texas. Since it’s located out in the Hill Country, the scenery is awesome for outdoor activities like biking, running and hiking. There are also a lot of great places to stop for food that are heavily German-influenced, and we also enjoy visiting a few of the local microbreweries and wineries.

Who’s your favorite band or singer?

I really enjoy listening to Nine Inch Nails. The instrumentals are great for focusing on development work, and the faster aggressive songs are good for working out. I saw them live several years back, and the production quality of the show is unlike any I’ve seen.

What do you hate about technology?

I dislike when technology distracts us from what’s real. How many times have you been to a concert or show where you’ve seen a sea of phone screens light up? I spend so much time in front of a screen every day that I truly appreciate the time I can spend doing something real like hanging out with my family and friends. Technology should enhance the things that are important in life instead of obscuring them.

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