UPDATED 05:22 EDT / MARCH 27 2013

How to Become the Next Nick D’Aloisio, Summly’s Famous Teen Coder

There’s a lot of hype going around Nick D’Aloisio, the teen behind the coveted iPhone app Summly, recently snagged by Yahoo! for $30 million.  Before D’Aloisio’s arrival, the spotlight was on Brian Wong, the teen creator of Kiip, an app add-on that transforms game achievements into real-life rewards.

Everyone loves a wonder kid success story, but if nothing else, D’Aloisio’s story inspires the younger generation to take up coding.  There’s a growing number of programs to promote literacy in computer coding, as job requirements will increasingly require some level of interaction with software-driven machinery.   The earlier a kid learns the underlying concepts of the software-led economy of tomorrow, the better positioned they’ll be for the most prized jobs on the planet.

If you’re a teen interested in coding, or know of a teen that would like to be the next D’Aloisio, here’s three ways to become a teen coder.

3 ways to become a famous teen coder


Enrol at Menlo App Academy

If you have $350 to spare or your parents can give you that amount to enrol for a Summer course, and you live near the upscale Silicon Valley suburb of Atherton, California, your coding dreams might just be in your reach.

Unlike regular school where your teachers are about 10 to 50 years older than you, your teachers at the Menlo App Academy are a couple of 13-year olds.  Matt Dillabough and Max Colbert are both tech savvy.  Gary Dillabough is a green tech investor at Westley Group, while Brett Colbert is a vice president at NetApp.  Both dad’s experienced having crappy jobs and striving to hard to get comfortable lives.  Their sons are now experiencing easy lives so they wanted to teach them skills that could land them great jobs in the future.  Matt and Max are both excellent coders and now they’re imparting their knowledge to other teens who want to learn a skill that is important in this era of mobile domination.


Those must be the two words that you hate hearing from your teachers aside from “pens down.”  But if 12-year old Thomas Suarez was able to study coding and create apps on his own, I’m pretty sure you too can do it too.  He studied Python, Java and C “just to get the basics down,” and built apps using Apple’s iPhone Software Developer Kit.

Suarez created Earth Fortune and Bustin Jeiber, a whack-a-mole style game.  He then coaxed his parents into paying the $99 fee to get his apps published in the App Store, and now he aspires to develop for Android, and also impart his coding skills to other kids who also want to create apps.

If you have a hard time studying by yourself, maybe you can use some teaching materials to help you get started by downloading computer programming courses from Homeschool Programming Inc.

Google Summer of Code

If you think you’re bold enough to try and get a $5,000 stipend for coding, you can sign up for Google Summer of Code 2013.  This is for students who already know how to code.  Students propose a project and if it gets approved, they spend the summer writing code for the open source project they proposed.  Students are paired with mentors, and those who complete the project receive a $5,000 stipend.

Google Summer of Code is such a huge deal that CERN, the European laboratory for Particle Physics and best know for confirming the existence of the Higgs Boson or God Particle, has participated  for the past couple of years.

If you’re interested in joining Google Summer of Code, better hurry up and sign up, the deadline for this year is on March 29, 2013 at 19:00 UTC.

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