Picture this: An 18 year old boy busy working on a Mac machine in his bedroom in the London district of Wimbledon. All he does is write computer code and read on topics related to natural language processing. Soon this boy is seen selling apps to Yahoo Inc.
This is not a clip from a teen movie but a realty! Meet the 18-year-old WSJ. Magazine Technology Innovator of 2013 who became an overnight millionaire by inventing an app that may revolutionize how we read “on the go”
Nick D’Aloisio has changed the Way We Read: Earlier this year, this 18-year-old London schoolboy had sold a piece of software to Yahoo! for $30 million. The app called Summly, compresses long pieces of text into a few representative sentences. In a world where people generally read when on the go, this kind of an app, that delivers brief, accurate summaries, has practically changed the way we read.
The history of Summly can be traced back to 2011, when at the age 15; D’Aloisio managed to close a seed round of funding from Li Ka-shing, the wealthiest man in Asia. An early version of Summly, called Trimit, was featured in Apple’s app store in July 2011 on a list of new and noteworthy offerings. This is where it got noticed by the influential Silicon Valley blog TechCrunch and quickly came to the attention of an investment group led by Li Ka-shing. A year later, Summly was launched, and within a month it had attracted 500,000 users and became the number-one news app in 28 countries.
D’Aloisio says: “I thought I was going to sell the app in the Apple store for a pound or two each, and then I’d use the money to buy a new computer. I’d never had any contact from an investor before. And now here’s an email supposedly from a Hong Kong billionaire. It sounded dodgy. I didn’t respond the first time. They had to email me again.”
Later that year D’Aloisio was accompanied by his mother and father as he took a meeting with Horizons Ventures’s representatives in London. The meeting ended with D’Aloisio receiving a seed investment of $300,000.
Currently D’Aloisio is enjoying the new found success and spends most of his time managing his app and thinking of new ways to include improved features. He’s also contemplating whether to enroll in university in England or maybe the U.S. to be closer to Silicon Valley. Or maybe he’ll just skip college entirely and just focus on his work.