Top of the Class

#17 Starting an App Development Company in High School

December 09, 2020 Crimson Education Season 1 Episode 17
Top of the Class
#17 Starting an App Development Company in High School
Show Notes Transcript

More and more students are learning to code in high school but how do you take that next step to turn it into a profitable company?

In this episode, co-founder of AppSydney, 15-year-old Nicholas Mihailou, takes us through how he learned to code to the experience of sharing his first app with friends at school.

He also shares some of the pros and cons of being a teenage entrepreneur, what it's like creating apps for large companies and gives his advice for other students wanting to do the same.

  • Click here to visit the AppSydney website
  • Click here to connect with Nick on LinkedIn
  • Click here to see a video about the top Computer Science schools in the world

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Host's Notes:
Starting an app development business is so much more than just creating an app. There's all the emails, marketing, invoicing, customer communications and more! It's awesome Nick is learning all of this now and is able to share his experiences. My big take away from chatting with Nick is don't wait to "grow up" to start something, start it now!

Podcast Host  00:17

Hello, and welcome to the Top of the Class podcast. I'm your host, Alex Cork and in this episode, I chat with 15 year old app developer and co founder of AppSydney. Nicholas, Mihailou. We chat about how we learn to code, the experience of creating his first app, and how he goes about getting new clients while managing life at school. Let's chat with Nick Mihailou. Nick, it's fantastic to have you on the show. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself?

Nick M  00:44

Hey, guys, so my name is Nicholas Mihailou. I'm a 15 year old app developer and entrepreneur from Sydney. I think my whole story starts when I was about 10 years old, I started learning how to code on YouTube and that kind of thing. Eventually built up my skills, I'm starting to develop games, got a bit of traction there, and then Apple kind of so much stuff. And now with me and my friends, we run a custom app development company. And we're really enjoying that while hustling at school and really taking a key focus in that. So I think that's kind of everything.

Podcast Host  01:17

So a lot of stuff going on at a young age of 15. So that puts you in your nine or your 10. Where does the nine Yeah, your nine. Okay, good stuff. When people ask you who you are, are you a student first or an app developer first or an entrepreneur? What do you see yourself as?

Nick M  01:34

I would see myself first as an entrepreneur, and then a student, I think, to the core, I love business, and then academics as well. And I think app development is just one of those things. So I'm interested in a lot of different types of business. So I just think that's the kind of industry I'm in should, say, entrepreneur, then student.

Podcast Host  01:52

So how does an entrepreneur spend their time after school?

Nick M  01:55

Yeah, so usually come home, and firstly, focus on my homework, but then spend the rest of the night back and forth with emails, hustling, and LinkedIn, as you said, before, email marketing, that kind of thing, and actually working with my team and developing whatever projects we're working on. So it's very, it's very time consuming. And I do need to usually talk to my parents and discuss how I'm going to manage my week or my day, it's definitely hard, but I think a lot of kids can do it if they really want to.

Podcast Host  02:24

So where does your entrepreneurial streak come from? Is it something that your parents encouraged you to do? Is that something that you saw through school? What makes someone who's in the early years of high school suddenly say, Yep, entrepreneurship is for me?

Nick M  02:37

Well, I think it all started, when I was in year six with me, and one of my good mates to heal, we decided to start a bit of a coding club at our school. And I think before that I was interested in, for example, the stock market, or that kind of thing, tech companies was always a big interest for me. It wasn't really spearheaded by anyone else besides myself, and maybe some of my friends. But as I went along, other people did help me. But I think I was just naturally interested in business and in how tech companies ran, I have a really key interest in that in that kind of field. What

Podcast Host  03:10

are the companies that you look at right now is the beacon of light for you, the ones that you aspire to work for, perhaps are the ones that you aspire to create perhaps your own.

Nick M  03:19

We are obviously Apple, since we have a really good connection with them. I did personally on Apple is my favorite tech company. But besides that, I think companies who are working in, you know, development or in financial in the financial kind of space, you know, Robin Hood is a great example. They do commission free stock trading. I think that's really cool. Besides that, Amazon is an obvious one, Microsoft, you know, just the big one to you know, how to really strong roots in development and just built it up to a huge kind of state. I think that's really inspiring. I'm also inspired by Crimson Education, to be completely honest, I think what Jamie and you guys have done is really is really impressive, especially at such a young age as well.

Podcast Host  04:01

Well, I'm sure Jamie would appreciate that. And I know cruising has gone, you know, great way in the last X number of years now seven years or thereabouts. I think we've been around so a great education company to be a part of, but yeah, do you read the stories or autobiographies of these? You know, the founders and the history of these companies? Like how in depth do you go? When you say, Yeah, I like, you know, what Robin Hood does or I like what Apple does?


Yeah, with Apple as an example, when I was about nine, eight or nine, I read the Steve Jobs biography. at a really young age, it was a really big book, but I kind of fell in love with that kind of aspect. And whenever I set my mind on an idol, someone who I aspire to be like or learn from, I really go deep. I watch as many videos as I can. I usually buy that books and kind of read about them a lot. And I'm a big fan of really going deep and whenever you're doing is making sure that you've done enough research and you know really learnt the mindset of those people, for example, how their companies run stuff like that, that's in my personal opinion really important. If you're going to pick someone to idolize, or someone to our company, for example, that you really want to aspire to be like.

Podcast Host  05:10

So talk me through when you started creating your first team. And then you're doing coding. So like, this is all fairly new to I'm sure, most students, what does that look like when you're talking to your mates and saying, hey, look, do you want to start a coding camp or coding club, and I want to start a team, and you're going to be on my team, like almost starting like a mini business. And now you actually do have your own business? So what was that? Like? What was that conversation? Like when you were How old?

Nick M  05:39

Are 12? Or 13? I'd say 12.

Podcast Host  05:42

Yeah. Okay, so you're 12 years old? What does that conversation look like when you're talking to your mates about starting a team and building something, and not just going to a footy training or something?


Yeah, exactly. So me and two other mates, we had the conversation that wanted to make games. So I think games came first for us wanting to make games, but we also wanted to make money from it, I'm not gonna lie. That was that was a big driver for us, we wanted to make a bit of extra side money. Um, so during those years of you six, and seven, spent a lot of time talking to each other about it, trying to find other school mates to help us with it. And also just making a lot of games that weren't successful. I mean, we had nine fell apps that just didn't come out or got rejected from the App Store. So I think main causation for that was that all three of us had a key interest in it. A few other people came and left in the team. But in terms of game development, we we had a very key interest in technology. We were very business minded. And I think with the current people that we have, you know, my best major heel, could we do, you know, the apps with, we're both very similarly minded about how we run the business and our passion for it, and the kind of angle that we aspire to have.

Podcast Host  06:53

Okay, so even though you're only 12, or 13, at the time, it didn't seem like a goal that was a bit far fetched or anything, it felt pretty achievable when you were going out and saying, Hey, guys, like, let's create some games on the App Store. And let's make some money from this. Did that seem believable to you? At the time?


I think it seemed believable. Before we had our first failure. I think we we were kind of blissfully ignorant as you can put it, that we thought that if you just made a game, we put ourselves really high, we try to make a big RPG type game, a desktop game. Yeah. And then we start doing it. And it just didn't work. You know. I mean, we made it but it was terrible, right? So we had to change our sights from there. And we came very realistic about how hard it was to make an app and then make money from it. And we had to learn that whole process. Um, so I think before we we had our first few failures, we thought it would be easy. But then we came through that, and we realize how hard it is. But we've done a good job so far.

Podcast Host  07:50

Yeah, so it seems like a baptism by fire type of thing where he got to learn from your failures. Yeah, what encouraged you to keep going even though the first app, or the first game was, as you said, quite the failure?


Yeah, so we had multiple games that just didn't come through. And we had people, one of our other good mates who wasn't really interested in come High School and wanted to leave us. So it was me and Jay Hill left to just keep going. And we had the conversation about always pivoting or just quitting in general. But I think it's hard when it's something that you want that badly to, for example, to have our first game on the App Store, that was something along along go for us. And I feel like when you're that passionate about something, there's nothing, nothing's really going to stop you there. And I feel like that's kind of where we came from. Because we've had, for example, just in terms of business, we've had nine failed apps that either didn't go through or just weren't good enough. We've had, for example, clients who lied to us, we've been cheated out of things. But I would say we never really took it personally. And we always just kept going. And I think that's a really important, you know, feature to have, if you want to be successful in school. Or if you just want to have a successful business, I think that's a really key thing to have.

Podcast Host  09:03

Absolutely. And talk me through I guess that client side of things.


Yes, I think our approach since we started a new company app, Sydney, where we do development for, you know, big companies, small companies, is that we kind of wanted to position ourselves as having gotten to a point of difference. So we, we were open in saying that were 15 years old, you know, everyone on the team who was working with us at that time, and we saw that a lot of people were really interested in that kind of part. We're like, that's kind of you don't hear that every day. So they were like 15, we'll have a call. You go on the call. And then they're like, okay, that's pretty cool. And then you get to stuff like price or you know, what we can deliver, and their expectations are really high for something that because we're so young, they don't expect it to be the greatest quality or cost a lot of money. So I think that was something that was hard because we just thought that if we were 15 and young, it was a great story, for example, but a lot of people kind of tried to a lot of people have the perception that we couldn't do it what we were offering or that we were charging too much, for example, for development services. So I think it has been really hard to find people to believe in us. But I think we've gotten through that now.

Podcast Host  10:11

Yeah, I guess you start kind of building up a client base, and you've got a portfolio of things you've done before. So people that take you a little bit more seriously, but tough going in those early days of starting app, Sydney, can you talk us through I guess, like the first app that you put onto the App Store, and what that was all about?


Yes, a puzzle. So the first game that we released onto the App Store, basically, it's a hyper casual mobile game, it was really actually took us three days to make, I mean, that was after years of experience, but it's pretty simple. It's just a puzzle game, basically, a puzzle pieces come down, you have to try to strike them to get more points, right. So the premise was simple, the plan was that we'd make it quickly. And our plan at that point was that we knew that meant spending a lot of time making games that like percentage wise probably would fail without the right thing. So we spent, we focused on quantity of quality at that point, but we still tried to make the best game. So we made like seven games in rapid succession of just really simple because you see on the app store a lot of really easy games that are really, you know, simple mechanics, that kind of thing. Yep. Um, and we, we researched different coding languages. And we decided, for example, on unity, which is a great game engine, and are the coding language C sharp, which we thought would be really efficient for that kind of thing. So with puzzle dash, it took us roughly three hours to make a siphon with the business side of things. And we decided that we would, you know, use ads to make money from that. So we released it and kind of told Apple, what we were about, you know, our age and things like that. And, I mean, when we released the app, it did take a while, but it kind of did take off a bit, but a lot of downloads in the wall of different places that we didn't expect. So I think that kind of opened our eyes in terms of what was possible, just through the internet. And like what you can do at any age,

Podcast Host  11:58

talk me through the learning process of something like C sharp and unity. Is that something that you think anyone can learn? Or is it best to have a background in, say maths, or physics? Or, you know, what kind of skills do you think makes someone able to learn something like that on their own?


Yeah, so I obviously learned to that quite a young age, me and my friends who pursued the business, I don't think you need a background in mathematics for that. But I think when you're getting into, for example, we do AI development where we're personally into artificial intelligence, stuff like that, you I think it would be best to have an interest or a background in math in physics, to really understand the theory. Because if you think of coding as a language, like French or Italian, there's a lot of you know, key rules about that. But you also need to, there needs to be a background theory into those kind of things. And with coding, it's no different knowing mathematics will help you or having an interest in that. But I don't think it's completely necessary for if you want to make a game, it's not necessary.

Podcast Host  12:59

What was your go to learning resource? Like you you said, You learned on YouTube primarily? Was there one particular channel that you found extremely helpful? Or one particular resource? Yeah, what was that?


Yeah, um, a channel called Rockies, they focused on C sharp development in gaming, we actually chatted to them a bit about ourselves and that kind of thing. Um, but there are a lot of good ones about, you know, swift development, which is more like iPhone kind of development, a lot of good ones out there. And I think on that kind of topic, I feel like YouTube is probably the best tool to use. I don't think it is required to spend all this money on the course or go to a camp or for example, I think, if you really want to do it, YouTube is a great source.

Podcast Host  13:41

Absolutely. I mean, there's a lot of things people can learn on YouTube about knowing the right channels, I think sometimes otherwise, it's about


knowing it's about knowing what you're looking for, and really cross referencing and making sure that what you're doing is right.

Podcast Host  13:53

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Now, on a scale of one to 10, for instance, how difficult was it in comparison to what you were learning at school? Was this like your main academic intellectual challenge? Or was school still The difficult thing and this is what you just did in your downtime.


I feel like throwing yourself into business and learning how to code at the same time, in terms of an intellectual struggle that was very difficult to overcome, because, for example, I've learned many different languages where you can look at flutter x code, Swift, C sharp, and different JavaScript Python. So and those are all very different and but I learnt them through just kind of passion and just knowing that I needed to learn them to the business, for example, but I think was school it has been, you know, wrapping up in my school, for example, they have a great you know, system of really pushing kids who have a keen interest in that kind of thing. And just maths and English in general. I would say bit learning coding has been a bit harder than academics so far, but I feel like it will only get harder to school.

Podcast Host  14:55

Take me through the business side of it, and how much you learn. about running a business from doing this because the app side of things is a great skill set. And being able to create an app is one side. But then there's like the business thing, you know, filling in invoices, creating like a pricing structure, advertising all the rest of it. How much of that did you have to kind of learn as you go?


So I think it's been pretty hard. And I've had to learn through experience, like, for example, my parents love them to death, but they have any kind of business experience, you know, they helped me with, you know, just the emotional side of things. But I would say it's been hard just when you're thinking about pricing, for example, I think that's a big thing that kind of had me in the early days, is that you never really know what these people are going to think. Because, you know, it's so funny games when you talk about, you know, young person making an app or service. But when you come to price, that's where, you know, it becomes very serious. And then, you know, being rejected time and time again, it can have an emotional effect on people. And it did have an effect on me personally, because you, you question yourself, and you say, oh, why isn't this working, for example, and then just managing the business, emailing people and being on top of that, because we've gone to client meetings where we have school the next day assessments for the whole week, and they say, We need you 24? Seven, to make sure that this for example, this app is running, right? Yeah. And what do we say to that? What do we say, we can't do that? Because we have school will then they'll go to a different company, although it's distinct that we don't have the skill set. So I think it's been very hard. But I think once you do it for so long, and once you get someone who will pay you or will believe in you, I think that it confidence will boost up in that kind of sense. So I think it has been hard, but I've learned from it. What was that feeling?

Podcast Host  16:39

Like when someone said, Yep, I'm going to be keen to have my app developed by AB Sydney.


Yeah, so first client, not sure if we can then overly talk to him about it. But yes, so basically, this person, this company, they did want like a podcast website done. And for us, it was our first client. So we didn't really know what to do. We had a zoom call, talk to them about what the project was, we had that kind of sense of imposter syndrome, where we didn't really believe that, that we deserved to be that because it was Fs, well, obviously, we made everything on the spot on the fly, we were just running with it. And then we sent out our first invoice our deposit, after they agreed on it for a few days, didn't respond, we we got very nervous about it, we were like what do we do, send your follow up email, they pay at the same day. And, and the feeling of you know, first getting that deposit, it was very small. But that kind of propelled the passion. And just the the idea that we could pursue it to a third degree, I think it was a very it was it was challenging with the first client because we had to do so many things that we didn't expect, we would have to do, for example, invoicing emails, you know, and we didn't expect the revisions. For example, if the person didn't like the design of the website, or the app, in our case website, and we had to fix it up and spend a lot of time on that. And we didn't really affect that in. So I think that kind of taught us a lot about what we would do for the next client and next client. And we've met a system so much more efficient, but I think ever needs to go through that kind of period of not really knowing what you're doing. But just going ahead and try it. I think it's very important.

Podcast Host  18:17

How do you hide that, I guess, from your clients? How do you hide that sense that you don't really know what you're doing when you're in the early days of a company, because I think no matter what age you are, whether you're 14 or whether you're 40, if you're starting a company, and you're doing it for the very first time, there's going to be a fair degree of I don't really know what I'm doing, especially for those first couple of clients. But how did I guess you keep that confidence up through the pitching process until you actually, you know, received the invoice got a contract signed and went through all that side of things?


Yeah, one of my biggest inspirations is Atlassian. And the people there Mike cannon Brooks and Scott Farquhar, they talk about that, as well as that they, when they started out, they didn't really know exactly what to do, or the lingo about business. I think, because we had such a deep experience in coding for ourselves, we kind of understood the development side of things, for example, but I think in terms of the business things I talk to, for example, my uncle, my parents about it, to see what they thought. And we kind of made up a kind of a body of directors in that kind of sense of people that we that we knew. And even if they weren't in terms of if they weren't in business, they still knew how people react to certain things. So I think you need to definitely talk to people, I think, talk to people. I think also, just if you go into a business, for example that you don't know too much about, there's a solution to that. And that is, you know, learning more about it. For us, we were pretty confident in what we could do because we made so many apps and websites before and with the business side of things. I think we also had the belief that we could do it. And I think that's really important and also backing that up with research and making sure that everything's right.

Podcast Host  19:58

Yeah, certainly takes a bit of time. To put that kind of marketing material and collateral together, and to make sure that you're communicating that throughout the entire process, how have you been advertising?


We've done a lot of email strategies. And I think a big thing has been referrals for us is that when you do good work for someone that balance and tell someone else, and I think, I think being a student is a great asset, because it's such a unique story to be so young to do something, and think it's a really good asset to have, rather than people think that might be a liability. So I think having that whole story is really good. And I think, you know, just talking to people in real life about that, because over email, it's easy to ignore people, for example, but I think if you're starting a business, I think you just talk to your family, your friends, are people that you may know that you may not know, mutual people, I think that's a great way to start. But I think from that you need to automate your systems, I think you need to, you know, look at lead generation marketing strategies. You know, LinkedIn is a great tool, as you said, before we met on there. But as you keep going, for example, we've made projects, pretty big organizations, I think that kind of naturally occurs where, for example, they might want to talk about it on their podcast, or on their, you know, newspaper or media form that they have. I think it can really snowball and that effect, but you need to make sure that the work is really good.

Podcast Host  21:18

The companies, I guess, might use it as a bit of a marketing tool for themselves to be able to say, hey, look at us, we took a chance on some 15 year olds, we brave and bold, don't we see the future of kids? That kind of stuff? Right? Yeah,

Nick M  21:30

That's been a big thing.

Podcast Host  21:33

Yeah. It's interesting to kind of look at it from that angle. And I think there's some students who would probably be quite talented coders, who are sitting at home thinking, well, this is quite interesting to hear how you kind of handled that student side of things and the age side of things. And whether you saw that as a barrier to success, or whether you saw it as helping towards your success. But I'm sure there's as equally as there's fans of us, who would be like, Oh, he's 15. And doing amazing things. There would be other people as well, who would say 15 year old No way, I'm never going to hire a 15 year old to do a website or an app.


Yeah, we've definitely encountered those types of people. I think, in terms of that kind of dynamic, where we're so young, I do think it's quite warranted to believe that we couldn't do it. But I think just in terms of the population of people at my age who can do it, I think it's quite unfair to just put that stereotype on them that they're doing nothing other than gaming, or, you know, not not really focusing on the project, I don't understand where they're coming from in that kind of sense. But I do believe that you just need to make sure it's the right person for the job or whatever service you're providing. I don't think age matters too much in that kind of sense.

Podcast Host  22:41

Let's talk a little bit more about your school life. Because I know that's an interest for a lot of students who are like, Oh, well, I want to do well at school, and then think about what's next. But when you're balancing business, and school can be a bit of a challenge. Have you seen the business side of things help what you do at school, like say, for instance, you know, you might be doing economics, or you might be doing some kind of technology class? And obviously, like you're spending a lot of time doing business related things and technology related things outside of the classroom as well. Yeah. What do you see it perhaps getting in the way of some of your major assessments and as you said, You know, sometimes clients once you available for 24, seven, and it's just impossible sometimes to meet those demands.


I think, generally, I've balanced it pretty well, I think, if you don't, it can definitely detract from your schoolwork. For example, I do commerce at my school. And I think that's really helped out I think, my general interest in that when you go to English and math, I think if you're not focusing on that, as well, in school hours, it can definitely detract. It's a balancing act at that kind of point where you need to make sure that you're really focusing because that's a big thing for me, and my business partners, and everyone on the team whose at school, is that we focus on school at school. And when we're out of school, we do homework, and then additionally, trying to work on the business in the time that we would be spending playing footy or basketball playing the Xbox. Right. So I think that that was a huge a huge thing for that. So I think if you're not careful, it can definitely detract. But I think for us, I think for me, personally, I think it's I don't think it's improved my schoolwork. But I think my school, my level of quality is stayed the same.

Podcast Host  24:16

Okay, so you don't think it's really gotten in the way. I mean, I can say you would be taking a bit more of an interest in the commerce side of things where you know, you've got a business, right, because you might be talking about some of the things that you're doing in your day to day business to keep it running. Let's talk a little bit about where you see yourself in the future as well. Whether you see yourself continuing on the AI computer programming side of things, or you want to move into the VC space as well, venture capital, talking about your options there and how I guess a 15 year old comes across I mean, most 15 year olds, you wouldn't even know what VC means of venture capital remains. Yeah. So how you've come across this whole world and where you see yourself fitting in in the future.


Well, yeah, I mean, as I said to you, that was one of my goals. So Was I've always had a keen interest in the stock market and investments in general, I think that really ties into technology quite well learned about, you know, it's one of the key things for starting a tech startup, having a VC is one of the most important aspects of that someone who can, if you don't know what a VC is, a venture capitalist is someone who kind of funds your idea for a percentage of the project. So say, if it's Mark Zuckerberg pitching Facebook, they put a million dollars in get 5%. And when it becomes a huge company, they make that money back in in droves, 10, X Games, whatever it is. So I think for me, I always really want to stay in the kind of space of technology and kind of pursue my interest in investments. And I feel like I can do that very well, by going into venture capital row, as well as you know, even working at a tech company at the same time or founding one. So I think that's quite natural for me to, to kind of look at that avenue. And I think a good idea.

Podcast Host  25:57

Where are the hotspots in the world for venture capital tech startups? I know, obviously, Silicon Valley comes to mind. But are there any others around the world that you could see yourself working in potentially?


Um, yes, it's Silicon Valley, San Francisco, that's the obvious stereotype of technology stops, but I think we're seeing a huge increase. You know, in Asia, especially China, there's a lot of increase there, you know, London, New York, those are some other stereotypical places. But I think also in Sydney, and Australia, in general, I think, for example, Atlassian is building a huge building here, that's supposed to attract a lot of tech startups, because that can be a working space for them as well. So I feel like as the world globalized isn't everyone becomes more connected in the future, 10 years down the track, I don't think that that will be a specific place to be, I feel like there'll be stops coming from every corner of the world, Israel as well, this love starts coming from there. So I think I think in general, you know, being in Silicon Valley would be a great thing. But I think you could be anywhere in the world and have a great idea and build it up to a big company or invest in a great startup.

Podcast Host  27:02

And what kind of doors has this kind of business open for you.


I've been a part of some great organizations of people for development, for business, and for kind of fun out in the financial space for investments. So I've been a part of, for example, a young people's group of school group of, you know, stock people who are doing pitching that kind of thing, where we have competitions. So that's been one, two, let's open another one has been when I talk to people like adults about my passion for business or app development, for example, the apple trip, I went to Melbourne with my team, and we, you know, met with Apple executives about the app and stuff, that was a great opportunity. And that just came from simply emailing apple. And then for three months, nothing happened. We didn't expect anything to happen. But they had the specific event, and it just fell into place that way. I think in terms of business, there's a lot of great, you know, people and organizations that are really interested in the fact that young people are doing it. So I think I think if anyone's listening to this, I think an important factor of that is going out there. Even if you're introverted or something which I know I am personally, I think just talking to people messaging them, because you don't know that what might happen in that kind of case, you know, people could respond to it love the idea if you're making a business or if it's just your personal brand. So I think it's open to Logar opportunities for myself and for the people around me. And I do feel like a lot of people can replicate it if they have a great idea, or have a really big passion in a field that's growing so rapidly, which is technology in my case,

Podcast Host  28:30

yes. So it's like connecting with people around the world. I've seen some great app developers, young and in university and professionals are out there. And it's like a very quickly growing community. And it feels like a pretty I think one of the very unique things about app developing is it feels like a very level playing field in some respects. Like in some industries, experience matters. And if you're not like in your 40s, or 50s, or whatever, like people aren't really going to take you that seriously. Because you're not going to have you know, 20 plus years of experience under your belt. But because, you know, app development and artificial intelligence, etc, is fairly new. And like you've grown up with it. People say like, Oh, well, you know, a 15 year old has just as much chance in many cases as someone who's in their 30s or 40s. In fact, you would probably trust you to create an app more than I would someone who's in their 40s because someone in their 40s hasn't grown up with this technology and has had to kind of learn it from scratch. Do you find that that is a feature as well, about the community you have? It's pretty much like a level playing field and age isn't such a factor.


I think for sure, I think with the rise of sites such as, or freelancer, you know, that's a big industry of where people who are any age, any ethnicity or whatever it is, and if you can provide the job, people will hire you. And I think that's been a huge factor. I think I've been lucky because in tech, I think there's a good perception around, you know, young people who are into that kind of thing, because we've obviously grown up with it. And I think that's been a great perception. I think If I was going into a different industry, clothing or whatever it is making something else, I think it would be drastically harder to break into that industry and find any type of success. So I think specifically in technology, making apps, you know, developing, having a start off, I think it really does fit with the demographic of people that I mean, you know, young people, 15 year old students, whatever it is, I do think it fits quite well, to your point. Yeah.

Podcast Host  30:28

Talk me through what it was like to first set up the business, like that day or that week, and how you felt about it. And when you started kind of pushing it out on socials or whatever you were doing in the early days, what was the general response you got from your mates?


Yes, I would say that that moment would be when I first released password ash was my first foray into business, even though we kind of developed it before then. So when I released the app, we got, for example, my dad put it on Facebook, and people started talking about it. And then it was when I came to school that people started to download it, and then find that there was issues with the app, for example. So for the first few and say, months, even, but for the first few weeks, I had ever coming up to me having the app in their hands and playing it, finding an issue with it. And then I felt really embarrassed. So I went to quickly fix it. But then as we kind of kept getting traction, and those opportunities came up for me, I think a lot of people got interested. And I think generally just the feeling was we were very, very proud of having the app out there. But we always felt like we could have done better or that we could have fixed something up. If you walk in a class and someone comes up to you and says that you know that the app doesn't work or there's a glitch, you know, you feel very embarrassed about that. That was definitely a struggle for me to deal with, you know, all the people talking about it, and having that as a conversation piece. But I think as as it's kind of gone along, all people have kind of grown in interest into what I'm doing. I think that's been really good. But I think Yeah, just the general emotions were it was quite quite a challenge in the beginning stages.

Podcast Host  32:03

Yeah, that sounds crazy. Because it's like putting your work out there for everyone to see. Right. And judge. And people know what, you know, a good game is not like writing an essay where people can have their opinions about an essay, but it's your thoughts and whatnot. But when it comes to a game, and it's a glitch, like it's pretty obvious, right? Like, it's a pretty clear stuff up. So it's about going back and fixing that pretty quickly, I imagine. But yeah, it's pretty brave to kind of put your work out there for anyone and everyone to have a go and and commend you for that. That's awesome. Talk to me about what comes next. After school, you did briefly mentioned that you're interested in overseas universities. But as everybody knows, if you're an entrepreneur, you're in high school, and you already mentioned it as well, there is I guess that other thought bubble, which is what are you doing at school? Why don't you just pursue your business interest? So talk to me, I guess about that internal battle? Yeah, that might be playing internally and with your, you know, friends and family as well as to what you do the end of high school? Well, I


think in terms of my friends and family, that's been a quite a controversial thing, where my friends at school think I should just drop out and continue it. All my parents are, they think I should obviously get my agency done sad, whatever it is, and go to university, which I completely respect and it but internally, I've kind of set milestones where if I reach a certain point, in kind of clients revenue, I feel like I'll be able to, I would say, decide maybe not to pursue University if I reach those goals, but those are really high goals for myself. So I definitely want to go to university, but I want to find a way to manage my business, because it's something that I am really passionate about as well.

Podcast Host  33:36

So if you were to go to university, what would be your mindset, then if like you were to start University next week? Yeah, what would you go there with the intention of doing?


Well, as I said, my parents sometimes is that a lot of people, you know, that you go to university to learn how to make a business and run it. And I feel like I've already had that experience through doing it at such a young age. So I think in terms of university, I do have some kind of ideas for that, where I do want to pursue a degree that is kind of away from business, but you know, maybe something in like finance or law or just something like that, which kind of interests me, and I think it comes down to which universities I might be able to get into for the kind of networking aspect of the people I can meet, just to interact with different types of people. So I think, I think it's it's a hard thing to take into account. But I think my goal is obviously the to maybe try to go and overseas, you know, American University, European University. And unless I can do that efficiently, and get into a great degree, I might not pursue University here, unless I have a compelling reason to Oh, I you know, my business completely fails and I have nowhere else to go. But I think I'm in a pretty good position where I can kind of choose that route.

Podcast Host  34:49

Well, yeah, having worked at Crimson for a couple of years, I've definitely seen some students who were in a similar position to you and had a business when they're in high school, went to university Continued building the business and their network, as a result of studying, you know, a couple of these students actually samil is on one of the episodes that I did. And he's now at Y Combinator, and doing his own business thing there. And another student Brendon, as well, we're going to try and get him on the show eventually. But he's got an app as well that he developed through uni at Harvard. And he's at Y Combinator as well. And so like, that's a great pathway for entrepreneurship. And in terms of like, getting that venture capital to really start your own stores. But it really depends on whether or not you want to, I guess, scale app Sydney into something that is either a big app development platform and automated somehow, who knows what's going to happen? Because right now, it's kind of like one on one client basis, it's very hard to scale. So I guess it would be a little bit of a interesting process to see if you go through uni and have some ideas. But yes, certainly, like, I went to UC Berkeley and a tour. And I was talking to one of the students there. And he said, Every second person here at UC Berkeley is working on an app. It's crazy. He's like, yeah, just the culture of those, like, you know, top universities on the west coast in particular. And obviously, like some of the major ones on the East Coast as well in the US. Like, they're just buzzing with this stem innovation, so could be a really good place to be even if just for a short term, and I pull up Zuckerberg and bail after like a year and a half or so. And, you know, you head off with a couple of good contacts in a way you go. But yeah, is there any final advice that you would give Nick, in terms of, you know, high school students, maybe not necessarily coding related, but who are considering starting their own business? And might be putting it off? Because of whatever kind of doubts they have in their mind? Yeah, advice would you give to them,


I think my main thing is about failing, but you need to fail forward. What that means is that if you have a business idea, and you want to test the market, for example, you go out and everyone says no, but that you find out why you get that feedback. And you really understand what you what you did wrong, so that you might you maybe continue that business, or you can branch off to a new one, and kind of weigh your options out there. So I think failing forward is really important, I think you need to do a lot of research beforehand. But at the same time, just try to go ahead and get into the business as soon as you possibly can. And that doesn't really mean just have an idea, and just go on YouTube or Instagram and talk about it and say I'm selling something, I think it means making something that's of value. I think the whole point is that if you want a business, you need to make sure that you're solving a real issue. So I think in terms with the emotional aspect of it, you need to kind of identify who you are. So I early on identified that I'm into I'm an introverted type of person that I needed, you know, try to find ways where I could improve that and become more confident, because I think that's really important. Learning how to talk to people is the most important skill more than being booksmart. So I think you need to really quickly understand the type of person that you are, and how that fits in with the business. And I also think that you need to identify who your biggest inspirations are, and try to see what they did wrong, or maybe what they did, right. And kind of take that and, you know, look at what they did, and help your own journey with that information. So I'd say those are the three major things,

Podcast Host  38:17

Some good tips there. And if I could add one more, it sounds like it means a lot to you to have a really strong business partner as well, like someone who's kind of stuck through, you know, thick and thin, and has been there for you along kind of the student journey, because you can have parents who support you and teaches you support you. But it must mean a lot more when there's another student who is there on the same journey with you. How important has that been for you?


I would say that's been the most important factor, having someone who you can always talk to, and when when you fail, you fail together, you talk about it. And it's a great feeling when you have someone that you're on the same page with. I know a lot of people get into a business with a partner for the wrong reasons. And and they kind of don't succeed. But I think in my specific partnership in the success that I would my best major heel, I think the whole point is that we we have different skills, emailing people just in the trenches, I think that's the most important thing that you can possibly have.

Podcast Host  39:16

Yeah, that's really good advice. And I 100% recommend that if students are interested in starting a business in high school, the first thing they're trying to do is find a willing co founder to do that with. But anyway, Nick, it's been fantastic to have you on the show to give your insights into starting at Sydney, wishing you all the best of luck for whatever comes next. And I'd be encouraging our listeners to reach out to you in the near future.

Nick M  39:36

Yeah, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Podcast Host  39:38

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