I'm interested in hearing from programmers & computer scientists who have started their own company. What is the general nature of your business and how did you play a part in starting it?
Any recommended reading for business-minded programmers would also be greatly helpful to myself and anyone starting a tech venture of their own.
I suggest you find a copy of Founders at work and read it. It is interesting and compelling.
It is also worth subscribing to the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast. There are some outstanding episodes in that series. (Also some duds)
I only name those because I think it will satifsy the craving for real-world stories that your post implies and the second one is a good survey of lectures/discussions from people who have "made it".
I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon of popular business literature so I won't recommend any books for practical application of things that worked FOR OTHER PEOPLE. You have to go out and try things on your own and make your own mistakes.
I started a business with two other programmers. Our model was similar to 37signals' model - offer consulting services to earn immediate profitability (we are bootstrapping our business and not taking outside funding), while building our own products. I've always been a business-minded person, so my role was to handle the sales & business development, marketing, account management, project management, and product management aspects of our business.
Books I would consider Must Reads are:
I just purchased this book, after hearing great things about the author and his Learn Startup philosophy (you've probably heard of it by now too):