Editor’s Note: I’ve always regretted not studying computer science in school when I had the chance. It’s stories like Guy’s that remind me just how valuable IT chops are becoming. The thing is, I’d only be in it for the money. But Guy here, he’s in it for the thrill. This is what happens when natural passion meets innovation, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Hi, my name is Guy Barrington. I’m an 18-year-old second year computer science and genetics student at the University of Western Australia; the founder, owner, and sole employee of Euphoric Software; the Western Australian Young Innovator of the Year for smartphone apps in 2012; and a hustler. Well, maybe an aspiring hustler now that I’ve read “What it means to be a hustler.” I just need to keep pushing myself.
So how about some back story? Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved computers. They are my passion. So it was logical, and to nobody’s surprise, when I took computer science through years 10, 11, and 12 during high school and chose it as my primary major at university. I’m the guy that, when a teacher says “Is anyone here good with technology?” the entire class yells “GUUYYY!!” I love programming, and it is probably my longest running and most consistent hobby.
I went to a high school in Perth, where chemistry, physics, and biology were all compulsory up to (and including) year 10. Year 10 was the first year genetics was introduced, and I was instantly hooked. This love of genetics and expanding interest in biology generally prompted me to continue with biology in years 11 and 12 and take genetics as my second major at uni.
As for Euphoric Software, I initially started the company when I was about to release my first Android app – a just-for-fun reader of a popular website – in 2011. Since then I’ve been using it for a variety of things, most recently creating websites for small businesses who need simple sites. It’s nice to talk to someone who has heard about you, and see the look on their faces when I tell them how little a no-BS site is really going to cost.
In year 12 biology, about mid-way through 2012, the teacher was talking about antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a topic of genetics. As the teacher spoke, an idea crossed my mind: “I could probably model this [resistance] in a program pretty easily… Yeah, having all the bacteria and the genes, some coding for the resistance… How would you show the data, though? A command line is kind of boring; what if I did an app?…”
Over the next few nights I spent an hour planning the app and two hours writing a primitive alpha version. When it was finally ready, I loaded it up on my tablet and brought it into class to show my teacher how to use it.
“These coloured bacteria are resistant to this colour of antibiotic, and if you go here you can see the genetic code of each one …”
He was impressed, and we got on with the class.
A few days later, my teacher approached me before class. “Hey Guy, how would you like to make $1,000?”
Hesitating for a moment to respond to what I thought was a trick question, I replied, “Sounds good..?”
“Well, Scitech runs a Young Innovator of the Year competition each year for young people who invent stuff, and there’s a smartphone app category, and I think you should enter. If you prepare a brief on the app and send it in, you can be picked to show the app off to a whole bunch of people, including the Chief Scientist of WA. Though you’d better be quick- I only just remembered it and I think entries close some time next week.”
Hammering out a brief over the next couple of nights, I submitted it with only a few days to spare. Somewhat to my surprise, about a month later, I got an email asking me to come to Scitech and show the app off in a CES-type way: all the selected entrants had a small table and guests walked around and interacted with the entrants. I polished the app up a bit and went along for the event. To my surprise again, I won the award for smartphone apps (and the money)!
My biology teacher also happened to be the head of science at my school, and he said that if I was to release the app (with worksheets, because “teachers are lazy – they’ll buy anything that does the work for them”) for iPad, he would be willing to purchase a copy for each year 10 student each year.
That was the beginning of my networking for my company, and I feel a very early point for my hustling. Since then, I’ve been in contact with several other institutions, and all said they’d be interested, including a professor at my university. However, not only does the app need a rewrite for things such as speed and graphics, but the professor also mentioned, “If you could make it more realistic in these ways…” and promptly gave me eight of the 12 chapters of a microbiology textbook to read (which I don’t have – so there’s something for the Zookal award!).
As for the present, I am currently doing small web work for clients, as I mentioned, and working as a programmer at another startup, which I got into via a university networking event and presenting a case. I absolutely love it and aim to emulate them some day. For the genetics app, I need to keep hustling, do the research to make the app more realistic, and keep networking to sell the concept.
Then, with a bit more work, I’ll be able to kick my company off to something successful.