Ben Casnocha: Business prodigy living a large start-up life

When he was 12 years old, Ben Casnocha was presented with a school assignment to think up ideas for a Web site that could function as a tool for community service needs.

It’s fair to say that he completed that particular assignment — and that it made a lasting impression.

Inspired by the project, Casnocha soon founded Comcate in 2000, an online software company that provides customer-service resources for small city and county government agencies. Comcate offers its services to cities such as Beverly Hills and Alameda, and larger districts such as Sonoma County.

As a full-time CEO and high school student (at San Francisco’s University High School), running Comcate gave Casnocha an opportunity to work on a unique set of scheduling skills.

“I really focused on three things in high school — my company, basketball and my school work,” Casnocha said. “It got a little stressful in my first two years of high school, trying to make conference calls with investors in between classes, but I definitely learned a lot of important time-management lessons.”

Casnocha has since relinquished some of his duties at Comcate to a full-time CEO (he sits on the board of directors) so he can focus on promoting his latest project, an autobiography and self-help book titled, “My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Though Silicon Valley.”

The book, released in May and published by Jossey-Bass, features Casnocha’s personal entrepreneurial advice, as well as guest essays from Silicon Valley leaders he has befriended during his business ascendancy.

“I’ve always loved to write, and I kept a diary of what I thought about my business, being an entrepreneur and other things of interest to me,” Casnocha said. “I consulted some people, and we realized we could publish a book out of my writings.”

In the last year, Casnocha — who graduated from University in 2006 — has spent his time lecturing at various universities across the United States to promote his book, while also traveling around the globe and doing consulting work at Mobius Venture Capital, a company based in Boulder, Colo.

In the fall, he will start attending Claremont-McKenna, a liberal arts college in Los Angeles, where he will focus on blending in with fellow students and committing himself to writing a new book — this one focusing on the history of America’s founding fathers.

“I have a broad range of interests, so I’ll always be working on something,” Casnocha said. “But for right now, my main goal is just seeing what its like to be a 19-year-old in a college social setting.”

Business

New project: Book, “My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley”

Number of e-mails a day: 100

Number of voice mails a day: 3

Essential Web site: ben.casnocha.com

Gadgets: T-Mobile Dash

Education: San Francisco’s University High School

Last conference: Book Expo of America

First job: Founder of a dot-com

Career objective: Have impact on the world

Personal

Details: 6 feet 4 inches tall, 19 years old, loves conversations with interesting people and good books

Hometown: San Francisco

Sports/hobbies: Ping pong, chess, basketball

Transportation: Prius or the Muni N-Judah

Favorite restaurant: Crepes on Cole in Cole Valley

Computer: PowerBook G4

Vacation spot: Japan

Reading: So many books, so little time

Motivation: Hearing the inspiring stories of others

Just Posted

City to double rate of bike rack installation

Bike racks are about to spring up across The City like wildflowers.… Continue reading

School district leaders want to keep cops off campus

SFUSD renegotiating agreement with police on handling of incidents involving students

Large fire displaces residents in Castro District

A large fire in San Francisco’s Castro District Saturday morning injured two… Continue reading

CCSF faces further class cuts to stem $13 million deficit

College weighing elimination of some programs including culinary arts, journalism

Confusion over planning codes nearly kills Sunset District restaurant project

A San Francisco couple that dreamed of serving the community they live… Continue reading

Most Read