I first heard about Nick D’Aloisio when he granted an interview to Piers Morgan on CNN shortly after he sold his application, Summly to Yahoo for 30million dollars. I became interested in his story after learning that he raised venture capital funding worth USD300,000 at the tender age of 15years while many of his mates were only bothered about Justin Timberlake music and the latest premiership scores.
I must have filed his name and Summly somewhere in my memory only to be pleasantly surprised to discover that he was listed as one of the Opening Speakers at the ongoing UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, France. I missed the opening ceremony as i roamed the streets of Paris in search of the Chilean Embassy to keep an appointment. I however had an opportunity to listen to Nick during the break when he mounted the podium to share his experience at what UNESCO termed ’15 minutes of fame’.
According to Nick, he learnt coding on his own, over 8weeks in his spare time, during a school holiday, and he played around a lot and experimented with a lot of ideas. In 2011, he developed an iOS application called Trimit, which used an analytical tool to condense text content into 1000, 500, or 140-character summary text.The app caught the attention of Apple who featured Trimit as a new and noteworthy application on the App Store at the same time. He later went on to use the experience he gained on Trimit to develop Summly, which has fetched him cool 30million dollars at 17years making him one of the youngest self-made millionaires.
Nick who was casually dressed in a sweater, faded jeans and sneakers looked like an everyday teenager, advised young people to tap into their creative side and work hard on their ideas. He says ‘you no longer need lots of money to test your digital ideas’ ‘You can learn to code on your own, or pay some other people to code the ideas that you have in order to have a prototype to market around’. He also mentioned that many people felt he was too young to know many things, so he preferred to have email exchanges and phone conversations to start discussions about his projects and then a physical meeting can follow after a potential investor is already interested in what he has to offer.
Africa’s booming tech ecosystem specifically in Kenya and Nigeria have the potential to produce very young inventors and tech disruptors like Nick!
Rotimi Olawale is co-founder of youthhubafrica.org. He travels extensively across the continent and beyond. He works mainly from home, prides himself as an amateur photographer and frequently consults for local and international organisations including the UN, World Bank and the African Union. Catch him on twitter
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