Teenage Developer from London Sells App for an estimated £20 million
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It started as a hobby. But now a London teenager has sold a mobile app he designed to Yahoo! for an estimated £20-40million. Nick D’Aloisio, 17, invented his app Summly in his bedroom. It boils down information from lengthy news stories and features to make them mobile- friendly. D’Aloisio is just one of a new generation of so-called Digital Natives (DNAs).
Four out of five under-25s feel lost without the internet, according to a poll by the Science Museum. And in London there’s a community who were born digital and are making a good living from apps, software development and YouTube. Eight hundred million users visit YouTube each month, with four billion views a day. All you need is a computer and an idea.
“It’s a testament to how empowering technology can be,” says Eileen Burbidge, partner at Passion Capital, a venture capital firm. “My experience with these young people is that they don’t find that many challenges as a result of their age. If they do, they simply see it as another matter to deal with. Anyone who has ambition, a clever mind and solid work ethic can start an internet site or service with just a laptop and broadband connection. Growing up around computers means the skills they need are second nature.”
It also helps that they usually don’t have children to support or a mortgage. Burbidge says this means they have “less to lose”. “Add to that the fact that these ventures are often related to their own interests so they are their own target market and know what their peers want more than anyone else.”
James Gill is one of these. He turned 22 last Sunday and runs GoSquared, a successful analytics company. He says: “Age is no longer a barrier. Technology means anyone can go from nothing to having an internet presence and making money in such a short time and it’s incredibly empowering.”
With that in mind, here are London’s top DNAs.
James Gill, 22, Geoff Wagstaff, 21, James Taylor, 21
Co-founders of GoSquared
A real-time website analytics service that this crew from Kent started while they were doing their GCSEs, to help mere mortals make sense of their websites with statistics. Within five weeks of them starting at university they were offered investment. Gill and Wagstaff left to work on the website full time and Taylor joined them after finishing his maths degree at Cambridge. Now they are based in Farringdon and work with more than 30,000 businesses worldwide. David Cameron has visited their office and they have £1 million of investment.
Adnan Ebrahim, 22
Founder, Car Throttle
His website has been called “Top Gear for the Facebook generation”. Run out of White Bear Yard, a shared office space for technology companies, it is the largest auto-enthusiast social media site. Ebrahim studied economics at University College London and says: “Seeing successful entrepreneurs across London made me more motivated to run Car Throttle full time.”
Jess Ratcliffe, 22
Founder of thisyr.com and GaBoom
At 19, Ratcliffe founded GaBoom, a website that allows users to swap video games. She built the website herself and it now has more than 10,000 users. She is also working on thisyr.com, a site where people share pledges of what they want to achieve.
Joe Dytrych, 17
When he’s not studying for his A-levels, Dytrych works on CodeCards, a programming tool he built last year with Decoded in Islington. He has been programming since he was 11 and made CodeCards to help children learn to code together, through the internet. His Twitter name is @SomeHats because he says: “No one can spell my real name.”
George Burgess, 21
Founder of Education Apps
At 15, he ran his own eBay shop and had a turnover of £36,000 a year while doing his GCSEs at St Paul’s School. Now he runs Education Apps, which provides content to help with learning. The BBC, Pearson and Oxford University are partners. Burgess turned down a place at Cambridge University to go to Stanford because of the technology scene there, but he is planning to return home to London when he graduates.
Imogen Wethered, 24
Instead of queueing up for London attractions, log in through this app on arrival and you will get a text telling you when you can get in. Last Christmas it cut queuing times to see Santa at Greenwich Market by 92 per cent and yesterday Qudini secured £150,000 of funding. Wethered and her co-founders, Fraser Hardy and Beatriz Juarez, work out of an office at the Wayra Academy in Tottenham Court Road, a company started by Telefonica to help start-ups.
Amy Brooks, 22
Works at DailySpank iPhone app
The girl from Kilburn has been involved with techie projects since she set up learning website Spark.Ed two years ago. Now she is based in Shoreditch where she works on DailySpank, a photosharing programme. Each day, users get a prompt to snap something in their lives. She has also created a game about trade development called Rewired State, for use within the Department for International Development.
Josh Oldham, 24
Founder of What’s Big In and Footy Bantr
Six months ago Oldham attended a course called Apps for Good and a tech workshop at a company called Freeformers. Now he is creating the What’s Big In app, which shows which YouTube videos are trending around the world and Footy Bantr, a social network for sports gossip.
Amarah Khan, Amina Hasan, Tamanna Rahmann, all 15
These girls from Tower Hamlets created their newly launched Android app to stop people from sleeping in. When chronic oversleepers try to press the snooze button, the app alerts nominated friends that their buddy is at risk of staying in bed.
Max Bye, 24
He started as a coder for M&C Saatchi, where he created Twet, a virtual pet you communicate with on Twitter. Now the Notting Hill resident is launching his own app. Boxtick is “an online place for users and their friends to find and share special moments. It’s something my friends like. I want to see if it resonates with others.”
Jamal Edwards, 23, SB.TVMusic
Views 162 million
Six years ago, Edwards was given a video camera for Christmas. He took it out on the west London estate where he lived to film his friends singing. Now his channel SB.TV is followed by Ed Miliband on Twitter and The Sunday Times Young Rich List estimated Edwards’s wealth at £6 million.
Klaire De Lys, 21
Views 78 million
Every Friday Klaire De Lys uploads a new video of her creating works of art on her face with make-up. She got into YouTube when she was doing her
A-levels and uploaded music videos. Now she lives off her channel. Her latest project involves creating 25 different looks for £25.
Jack Harries, 19, JacksGap
Views 61 million
Harries started the YouTube channel in 2011 to document his gap year but when he put twin brother Finn in a video he hit on a winning formula. Together they made what is now the 144th biggest YouTube channel in the world. They have a company called Digital Native Studios and have discussed setting up their own social network. Their mother, author and director Rebecca Frayn (daughter of novelist Michael Frayn) has said how surprised she was at their success.
Marcus Butler, 21
Views 38 million
His site shows funny videos discussing topics such as annoying mothers. When Butler hit 5,000 subscribers he celebrated by asking viewers for challenges and ended up putting on fake tan and dancing. He recently went to a basketball game with singer Rebecca Black of Friday fame.
Carrie Hope Fletcher, 20
Views 17 million
The little sister of McFly’s lead vocalist Tom Fletcher posts weekly videos on her channel itswaypastmybedtime. She started the “things I’ll never say project”, showing submissions as the closing title for most of her videos.