Interview: Ionic Co-Founder Max Lynch Shares Insight from His Entrepreneurial Journey

Even before earning his bachelor’s in computer science, Max Lynch ’10 acted on his entrepreneurship spirit. Along with his friend, Ben Sperry ’10, Max developed programs that would lead to the founding of Ionic, a platform for building and deploying modern mobile applications and micro frontend experiences.

In November 2022, Ionic announced that it will join OutSystems, a global leader in high-performance application development. In this interview, Max reflects upon how both his coursework and participation in student organizations helped him succeed.

He also shares why it’s never too early to start their entrepreneurial journey.

You co-founded Ionic with another UW-Madison alum, Ben Sperry. How did a computer sciences major and graphic designer connect and decide to start Ionic?

Ben and I actually grew up together in Shorewood, WI (near Milwaukee) and were very close friends. When we were in high school, we started getting interested in game development. That was the first time we combined forces on creative projects, and with his art talents and my programming skills we were able to make some basic games. We then moved into web development and worked on a number of projects over our high school and college years.

While in college at UW and around 2007/8, we were both inspired by the new startup movement that was taking place around communities like Y Combinator and Hacker News, that was encouraging people like us without traditional business or entrepreneurial backgrounds (we are both “first generation entrepreneurs”) to start companies. It turns out a developer/designer duo was a perfect fit for this movement, as we could build any web-based product we wanted without needing any outside help or hiring a team to get it off the ground. For me personally, it was a gift to have an incredibly talented designer help make everything I built look amazing, instead of my questionable “Programmer Art.”

We then learned how to build an actual company around our first product efforts and that eventually turned into Ionic. On that front, there was no school or course we could have taken, we just needed to build it and learn along the way.

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