Jordan Casey, a 14-year-old programmer and entrepreneur from Waterford, Ireland, believes that computer programmers should start early. Since 2012 he has founded two companies: Casey Games, a games company, and TeachWare, an app for teachers. He will be speaking at the EU’s Innovation Convention on 10 March, 2014.
You must be the only 14-year-old out there who already has two companies. How did that happen?
‘When I was nine, I was playing a game on the internet called Club Penguin and I saw that some of the users of the website were making blogs and websites about it and I thought that would be a fun hobby. So I went to the bookstore and bought a book on how to programme. I was doing the website for two years and then I came up with the idea to make my own games rather than websites about games. So, in 2012, I founded my first company. My second company is called TeachWare, a software application.’
Have you been approached by any investors or have you approached them?
‘I have approached investors. I did the Dragon’s Den TV programme (where inventors pitch their ideas to investors) last year. And when I go to conferences I connect with business people, but for my age now I don’t really see getting all this investment as important, but probably in the future it will be really vital to have those contacts.’
Did you know back then you could make money from your apps?
‘I started making websites and blogs and I didn’t really think about money that much, but when I started the games company I realised (I could make money) because I was putting apps on the apps store and charging for them.’
Without giving away too much, what projects are you working on now?
‘I am creating a new version of TeachWare for principals (heads of schools). I am also creating a soccer companion app for individual teams.’
‘If this is something you are really interested in, then start early.’
Jordan Casey, 14-year-old entrepreneur
So TeachWare is popular then?
‘I have a hundred primary school teachers using it on a regular basis now.’
How did you learn all the coding?
‘I have learnt a few programming languages now. My first one was ActionScript and it’s probably my primary one. That took about three or four months to learn completely, but I sort of learn as I go. I start a project as I am learning and every time I learn a new bit of programming, I add that new feature.’
What do you like about coding?
‘I enjoy the problem-solving part. I like maths at school and it’s very similar to that. And also it’s nice to see when you have finished a project that you have built something. It wasn’t all for nothing and it’s cool to see your app there. It’s cool to see it work, and it’s cool to see people using it.’
Do you think younger people are better at programming?
‘I wouldn’t say we are better than adults, but if you start learning to programme at an older age, it can be a lot more intimidating than learning it at a younger age. I have noticed that young people are really willing to try anything.’
If you met another person your age who is trying to make apps and sell them, what advice would you give them?
‘Don’t give up. If this is something you are really interested in, then start early. Start as young as you can because in ten years I will be 24 years old and I will already have eleven or twelve years of experience of what it is like working in the industry. If it is something you really want, keep going with it because you will have a major head start on people who start at 18 or 19.’
You were asked to make an app for Brazil’s National Children’s Day. How did that come about?
‘Save the Day is an app I developed alongside an advertising agency in Brazil. I was at a conference in France, the Cannes Lions Festival, and I was approached by a company which said it was interested in working with me on a project. It was the official game for National Children’s Day in Brazil which is pretty cool. It’s a game where kids go around messing up the celebrations and you have to try and stop them. It’s like a Super Mario style of game.’
So what does the future hold for you?
‘Well, I definitely want to stay in software and developing. I don’t know if it will be games or productive apps, like what I am doing with TeachWare, but all I know is that I definitely want to stay in technology and I want to launch a few more start-ups, hopefully. I would also like to move to London in the future. I have been there a few times for conferences and I have noticed that the atmosphere there in terms of start-ups and technology is really good.’
If you could meet one person you admire, who would it be?
‘That would be a man called Markus Persson. He is from Sweden and he created the game Minecraft. He inspired me to start developing games and showed me that you do not have to be a huge company to have a successful game. He created Minecraft on his own in his house and it has grown into one of the biggest games of all time. Hopefully I will get to meet him someday.’
Have a look at the full programme for details.
Jordan Casey is a 14-year-old, self-taught computer programmer and entrepreneur from Waterford, Ireland.
He is the founder of two companies: Casey Games, a game company, and TeachWare, an app for teachers.
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