Thomas Ma's story is a tune being played out across the country.
It goes something like this: Young person graduates from college with hopes of entering the corporate business world.
No one gives him a chance. So he goes his own way, entering the world of entrepreneurship and moving into the hottest mobile space possible -- software application development.
Now he can boast of being a co-founder for a successful mobile apps company -- Chicago-based Sapphire Apps.
For this 2012 St. Charles East and 2016 University of Illinois-Chicago graduate armed with a degree in economics, applying for more than 100 internship positions without a bite was about the only message he needed.
"My interest in software development didn't happen until I started Sapphire Apps with my co-founder, Anish Daial," Ma said. "He originally made more than 500 apps within three years and did well."
He decided to work with Daial, a 2009 Bartlett High School graduate, after their chance meeting at a networking event in Chicago last year. The two realized they made a good team with complementary skills.
"I had the hustle and branding skills, while my business partner had the skills and expertise to execute," Ma said.
It was quite a different world, considering Ma had no inclination for this type of work when in high school.
"I played tennis in high school, but overall I was a quiet kid who was very shy," Ma said. "I always feared failing, but everything changed when the company started."
For now, he's busy with Sapphire Apps, which helps businesses increase downloads of their apps by optimizing keywords, much like a search-engine aid.
"Since we work with a lot of app developers, the biggest hurdle we see is that many do not focus on improving their keywords," Ma said. "They are more concerned about the actual product.
"Marketing is a different component," he added. "If they can't get users, their app won't be valid."
They want Hideaway:
More than 160 comments appeared on Facebook for my recent column item about whether the Hideaway restaurant in St. Charles Township could be brought back to its former glory.
My contention was that, even though I have been all for the Casiello family's efforts to restore the former Al Capone hideout to its dining glory along the Fox River, it might not have the same lure it had in the past.
About 99 percent of those responding didn't see it that way. They were positive, even excited, about the possibility of again visiting what had been a great steakhouse and nostalgic setting.
Of course, some positive thoughts on a Facebook post won't automatically equate to the dollars the new owners would need to make this thing work -- or to get past the various obstacles the county and some concerned neighbors are presenting.
Still, it may at least serve as a guide for the Casiellos' next move, in knowing they had a good idea in the minds of a fair number of observers.
Hold still now:
It's hard to believe two adults had to hold me down when I was a youngster as the doctor got ready to give me a shot.
It's also not clear if the technique of sticking a needle in one's arm or backside has changed over the past 50-plus years to somehow make it more comfortable.
The truth, of course, is that getting a shot doesn't hurt much.
Plus, getting an injection to keep the flu at bay as you get older is critical, which is why I rolled up the sleeve again last week for my annual flu shot at the Geneva Township senior center.
Sure, I could think of a million things I'd rather do than get a shot. But at least the other adults nearby didn't have to hold me down this time.
A cake heaven:
Any time you walk into a store and a half a dozen women are in there talking loudly and laughing, you know something good must be going on.
And it was. Nothing Bundt Cakes in the Geneva Commons has been selling its out-of-this-world cakes for a few weeks now and it appears this bakery's owners, Todd and Ashley Davies, are onto something quite good.
In making my visit to this bakery, I reminded Ashley I had called her several months ago at their store in Wheaton just to see if there was any way a place like this could make its way into the Tri-Cities at some point.
I was making the call on a whim after my wife brought home a piece of one of their cakes from an office party and it took some time to peel me off the ceiling it was so good.
As it turned out, Ashley informed me at that time that they were indeed bringing the bakery here in the fall. So, they now operate four of these cake factories -- Geneva, Wheaton, Elmhurst and Darien.
Most importantly, this bakery just joins a list of great places in this area to serve the sweet tooth. And that is definitely worth talking and laughing about loudly.