American Physical Society

Sam Wurzel - Company Founder

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Job Info

Octopart,  Inc.

Employer Home Page:

Job skills:
Complex problem solving
Synthesizing information
Team work

Sam Wurzel's Job:
Sam is one of three co-founders of Octopart,  a search engine for electronic parts.  "I write and maintain the code which manages the data from part distributors and manufacturers,  go to meetings with companies who are interested in working with us,  mail out Octopart tee shirts to our users that email us with bug reports--there's a lot more but that should give you an idea that there's a lot to do, " says Sam.

While Sam was a grad student at UC Boulder,  he read the essay "How to  Start a Startup" by Paul Graham,  which got him thinking about starting a company rather than continuing on the physics track.  Around that time,  Sam got a call from another grad student friend,  frustrated by his unsuccessful efforts to find a low temperature capacitor in huge paper catalogs--an experience which was also familiar to Sam.  Recognizing the need among the scientific community for a resource to help people find parts more easily,  the two decided to leave grad school to start their own web-based company.

Career Facts

Employer Type:

Current Location:
San Francisco, CA 94103

Physics Degree:

Educational Information

BS (ScB) - Engineering and Physics,  Brown University
MA - Physics,  University of Colorado at Boulder

More about Sam Wurzel

Sam Wurzel's other interests:
Outside of the job,  Sam likes to fix bicycles and keeping up-to-date on what's happening in the physics world,  especially in energy research,  but adds,  "Working on a startup company is a little like grad school--it takes over your life,  so I don't do much else!"

Direct link to Sam Wurzel's profile:

Sam Wurzel


Sam first became interested in Physics as a result of having some great math and science teachers who turned him on to describing the natural world with physics and mathematics.  He says,  "I'm still amazed that you can describe things in the world using math."

Sam feels that his Physics background helps him in his work at Octopart.  "Studying physics has prepared me extremely well for my career, " he says. "When we started working on Octopart,  none of us had done any real web programming and we didn't know what a database was. But having studied Physics,  and especially having worked in an experimental physics lab,  provided us with a great foundation for jumping into technical fields that we knew nothing about."