Wimbledon whizz-kid Nick D'Aloisio still juggles schoolwork with booming tech business
As most A-level students returned to school after half term, millionaire teen entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio was in Barcelona to launch the UK edition of his news digest app which he sold to Yahoo for £18 million last year.
It has been a whirlwind three years for the Wimbledon whizz-kid, who came up with the idea for an app which condenses information into digestible chunks while studying for his History GCSE at King’s College School.
He launched the first version of the app, Trimit, from his bedroom in the summer of 2011.
Mr D’Aloisio, who used books and web guides to teach himself computer coding, said: "I didn’t tell my friends, it was something I did on the side.
"I just taught myself as I was finding I could create something at a high level that as humans we can’t create."
Trimit grabbed the attention of tech sites and was featured by Apple in their app store.
The teenager then received an e-mail from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing, leader of a venture capital firm, who later invested £300,000 into developing the app.
It was re-named Summly before being sold to Yahoo last year.
Did he ever dream of making big profits from his invention? Mr D’Aloisio said: "I was doing it as a hobby, not for money. It had never been done before."
Now a product manager for mobile and emerging products at Yahoo he divides his time between his family home in Wimbledon and Silicon Valley.
Born in London, he moved to Australia as a baby, returning to Wimbledon aged seven.
His mother, a lawyer and father, a commercial specialist and former vice president of Morgan Stanley, sent their son to Donhead preparatory school.
Mr D’Aloisio said: "My parents didn’t know anything about programming but they were always very supportive of my learning and self-teaching."
He still attends Kings College School with his 15-year-old brother when not in Yahoo’s London or California offices, and he will take his final exams there in the summer.
On a normal day he will do a lot of school work "on the side", between going into the office in London or California and taking conference calls in the evening because of the time difference.
He said: "Once every four to six weeks I’m out in San Francisco. There’s other travelling as well, but I try to limit travelling because it can get a bit inefficient."
Despite his phenomenal success, the teenager remains grounded by living with his family in Wimbledon and hanging out with friends at the weekend.
He said: "We tend to go to peoples’ places. There are lots of 18ths at the moment.
"I haven’t noticed much of a difference in the way I interact with people I have always known. It’s not something which would render a change."
So far, Mr D’Aloisio is happy with the release of the British version of his app, Yahoo News Digest, which was launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.
The app provides a twice-daily digest of the ten most important news stories, identified by algorithms and editors.
Already out in the US, he would like to launch the iPhone app in other regions, but can’t see one localised to Wimbledon just yet.
Asked to give advice for aspiring young tech entrepreneurs, Mr D’Aloisio said: "Anything is possible and if you have a lot of good ideas and talent you should try as many different ideas as possible.
"On the side of school try and do as many products as possible."
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