Alex Warfel wakes up at about 8 a.m. every day. By 9, he is on the road to Westchester, where he spends his mornings in meetings with his team at ModernSoftware—the Software Development Company he co-founded last summer. The team, which consists of Alex, his friend Timos Pietris, and their coder, Dinesh Menhe, who holds a master’s degree in computer science, dedicates much of its time to prospecting potential investors, listening to their problems, and responding to their needs. In essence, Alex spends his mornings doing what he does best—helping others.
But when he was young, helping others did not come as naturally. Having grown up in Seattle and later, Pennsylvania, Alex was home-schooled up until his junior year of high school. His social circle was relatively small and limited to those, well, close to home. Social situations were not exactly his forte growing up.
“There was a lot of misreading of situations growing up for me,” Alex says. “People would come to me for help or just wanting to talk about themselves or understand their situations, and I would make it about myself. I had to learn how to turn that around.”
Now a Business Administration major at Marist and graduating in less than 100 days, Alex understands people’s situations for a living. It all began when he was 15 years old. His dad, an electrical engineer and former radio operator in the army with a developing interest in the stock market, purchased stock shares for Alex’s birthday.
“That was when it all clicked. Watching the numbers go up and down like that—it looked like magic.” As he continued to learn more and more about the logistics of mathematics and business, his interest developed into a passion, which he continued to foster as he watched others around him excel in the field. He oftentimes looked to his family and close friends for inspiration. His mom, dad, and brother, Anders, as well as his two close friends from Pennsylvania, Joe Muscara and Spencer Diernbach, served as the “main motivating factors” for Alex. “I look up to them as role models,” he says.
By the time he completed his freshman year at Marist College, spending much of his time in the Investment Center on campus, Alex was eager to launch his own career. Himself along with seven fellow students developed a company based around a dating application for mobile devices—somewhat of a video-chat-type-Tindr. The company, as Alex says, “crashed and burned,” after the team discovered that the invention had a pre-existing patent.
But already equipped with the knowledge and experience of most college-graduates, Alex transformed the “crash and burn” into an opportunity the year following.
“I got a call from Timos one night and he said: ‘Hey, remember that thing we tried last summer? Well I know a guy who’s trying to do that again.’” And so began ModernSoftwares. Alex, Timos, and the third addition, Dinesh, worked tirelessly to launch the company, with little success at first. Alex described the process as filled with screw-ups, waiting and waiting to attract clients willing to invest in the new-born company. But it was also at this point where Alex realized that he was not pursuing a career in business merely for the money. He was doing it because he could help people through whatever they were facing—whatever problem or need they had, Alex and his team were given the opportunity to offer relief. And eventually, “something caught.” ModernSoftware adopted its first client a few months later.
Having been working for the company since July, Alex devotes much time to mathematics. His days are colored with creating and analyzing financial charts—lots and lots of charts. But yet, the right side of his brain is far from inactive. In high school, he enjoyed writing almost as much as he did business—recording his life in the form of poems and short stories. Now, his creative writing has bled into his passion for business in the form of SnoQap—the financial blog he created shortly after the launch of ModernSoftwares. The blog, which initially began as an opportunity for Alex to merge his interests and produce articles related to technology and finance, has now evolved into a popular Wordpress site with four contributors—Alex and Timos, along with fellow students Nick Collettea and Andrew Montalti.
“It has been working out well because we are writing about what we are passionate about,” Alex says. In the midst of his business ventures and self-started career and blog, Alex continues to find ways to touch the lives of others, through his work as a Residence Assistant in Leo Hall, as well as involvement with Campus Ministry community service. In this light, he has very much developed from his younger struggles with understanding and relating with people.
“I have learned that you have to make it all about everyone else in life,” he says. “When you make it about you and are selfish and arrogant, you are not serving the community, and you lose sight of why people find value in you.”
As graduation fast approaches, Alex does not foresee too much changing. He plans on continuing the SnoQap blog, and obtaining a full-time job while working with ModernSoftwares on the side. Of course, that is not to say that his adventures will plateau. “I just think that, everything you want to do, you can do at any point in your life,” Alex says. “You don’t really have to wait, because you are living your life right now.”