Talking to the silver winner of Infomatrix international contest Misha Kudelia was a great pleasure for us. We talked about the contest, about Misha's application for teachers and students, and about everyone’s ability to achieve success, to "break the flow of comfort" and to stop living just for the weekends; about the exciting possibilities of virtual reality and much more. For many people, Misha’s life looks like some kind of a virtual reality, because this talented schoolboy has such a different thinking from the conventional one. However, his reality is much closer than you might imagine. Let’s read, dive in, and follow his example! ;)
Misha, congratulations on getting the silver, it’s a wonderful result! We are very proud of you.
Thank you! And also thank you very much for sponsoring my trip to the contest, it was really helpful. By the way, getting the silver was a lesson for me. After all, I felt that my project was not yet ready for the gold. It needs some improvements and more work to be done on it. If I had got the gold, I probably would have taken it for granted. But I got the silver, and realized I could do better.
And who was the winner?
This guy who has been coding for 9 years. He made a social network for universities or schools — a little like the thing I did, but even more of a social network. It was the first time he took part in this kind of contest, but he already has a number of business projects, applications on Playmarket with 70 thousands of downloads, and his own website. He is 18 years old, just six months older than me. I was really amazed!
Never mind — you have something to look up to. But now you are also an example for others. Please tell us a bit about the contest.
It was attended by high school students from about 50 countries (USA, Mexico, South Africa, Hong Kong and many others). There were many projects, but I must say that a large percentage of them didn’t seem very interesting to me personally. But there also were some cool projects — for example, the above mentioned social network for universities, a probe to scan the sea bottom and make a relief map, and a solution resembling a "smart home" (allowing people to control the lighting and stuff like that).
The organizers are very serious. It is at the International School of Bucharest, which is attended by school students from different countries. It is a school and a university as well. We were all in school, there was also a university organizing it all — Lumina University.
Did they invite you to study there?
They did. But when it comes to universities, it might be more interesting to go somewhere like the United States. My approach is when I do something, I want to do it in the best way possible. And if it’s a university, it should be the best place. We will have to wait and see, I'm not yet ready with the university decision. Next year will be my senior year at high school, and I will be working on my project at the same time.
And how did the contest go, who was on the jury?
The jury members were from the United States, Romania and other countries. Some of them were CEOs of companies. There also were stands where we hung the posters with our projects. The stands had some national styling, because the contest was also an exchange of cultures. And then the jury called us, and we defended their projects. They asked me what was the most difficult thing in my app development.
So what was it?
There was one specific task — to make a list of all the grades that the teachers submitted. On Android, it’s hard to make it scroll to the right and down at the same time. The native tools are not enough for that, so you have to find libraries and adapt them to your needs. That’s why I worked on this task for quite a long time.
Are up and down scrolls common for Android (and for the mobile web development in general), or do you have to fit into the screen size? What is the fashion trend for this today in terms of usability?
If there is a list, it is really common to have it scroll. No, it’s not necessary to fit it into the screen size. I studied all of these issues in order to make my application convenient. I dug into all the Material Design patterns to find out how they recommended designing apps in the Google style: where to place the buttons, how to arrange paragraphs and so on. I am going to work hard to make the app even more convenient.
And have you managed to implement your app?
I'm now developing a website for it on PHP (Yii2 framework) together with my team. It will be a service combining the website and the app that will be synchronized with each other through RESTful Api and have more extended functionality. For example, if the administrator adds something to the site, the teacher will see it on the phone. And not only teachers, but also parents and students will be able to use this app.
There is still a lot of work to do on the website. We are now doing the design, the page prototyping, and are taking a deeper look at usability issues.
And how did you decide to create such an app?
It wasn’t my idea — my teacher suggested it. After talking to other teachers, especially to the young ones, she said they needed this kind of mobile app. At first, to be honest, I wasn’t very eager to work on it because I already had my project — a gaming site with computer news and reviews that I had decided to build together with a friend. But I got enthusiastic about the app, and it evolved into a start-up with a team.
Does it feel nice to be a programmer at your age?
Well, I still would not like to call myself a programmer. It feels nice to see the result of your efforts. It feels nice to work every day, communicate with the team, know you are important in some way. In the future, I do not want to just be a developer — I want to set up my own company, an IT shop, or even to build an empire, such as Facebook, Google and so on. Big dreams, I know!
I do not like the idea of working all my life as a developer, even if I regularly invented some cool stuff. I want to do more global things. This is no longer about programming — this is about business. Yes, right now I am doing programing, taking an interest in it and developing my skills in this area, but I do not think it will last forever. And this training will help me some day become a company leader who fully understands the development process.
It's great to hear about your ambitions!
Yes, I am very ambitious — 10 of 10, so to speak. That's my feature.
Actually, anyone can achieve such success, especially in IT. You can do it even when you are younger than I am. But the problem is that today most people just do not want it — they go with the flow, they study because they have to, work to earn their living. They live for the weekends. Therefore, they do not achieve much. But those who work for a goal, do reach it.
I work seven days a week with no days off at all. We work every day. We do this because we want to. That's the key — the desire to work. You must reach a point where you want to work every day, where if you are idle for a day, you sleep badly that night because you feel you have wasted a day and you’re not moving towards your dream. I have reached this point. Yes, I also have moments when I do not want to do anything, but they pass.
But isn’t it difficult to work seven days a week? Don’t you need some kind of a "system reboot"? :)
During the evenings after work I may do something like play a game or chat with my friends. But spending all day doing nothing is not an option. Two or three years ago, I could easily sit all day playing computer games, but now I feel uncomfortable and ashamed of myself if I do.
That’s a successful person’s thinking! Many people prefer just to grumble about the lack of money.
Yes, in fact, it is easy to earn, especially if you learn things by yourself, and look for the right information on the Internet. Then it’s really easy to find a job. For example, I have already had a couple of job offers. But I rejected them because the project was of more importance and interest to me.
Don’t you feel like there will soon be apps for everything, and our lifestyles will change a lot? You’ll be able to take your phone and do anything.
You can take your phone and do almost anything today! Besides, the virtual reality and augmented reality are actively developing — take the Microsoft HoloLens, for example. Of course such inventions will change the world, and very quickly.
Isn’t it scary that it all may get out of control?
People will be staying in the virtual reality for a long time and will stop leaving their homes. As a child, I dreamed of visiting a virtual reality, so it's not scary for me. I dreamed of going into some kind of world that I could see and feel, but this will not be the Earth. In the virtual reality, you can do things that are impossible here. Elon Musk has said recently that we are most likely already living in a game or a virtual reality.
No, it's not scary — it's very cool and interesting. For example, the ability be a knight for some time or visit some other epoch is a priceless experience!
What would you advise to high school students who would like to do something but cannot take a step forward? What should they start with?
Starting is easy! For example, if you want to build a website — Google it and study your options. The main thing is to learn how to find the information. On the Internet, there is a multitude of ways to learn, a multitude of video lessons, a multitude of programming languages. You can build your website with PHP, with C# (C Sharp), with Python, with Ruby and so on. Anyone who wants to can do it. You just have to go and do it! And those who seem to want it but never do it just do not want it enough.
Richard Branson said, "Screw it, let’s do it!"
And so it is. When you are working on some start-up, particularly as a CEO (maybe this word is too strong for me, but I am the head of my team, after all), it seems like you’re breaking the standard flow of life. You have to deprive yourself of many things and work constantly. You even sometimes lose your friends because of lack of communication. But I try to keep in touch.
You just have to break the comfortable flow of your everyday living, and start doing, doing and doing! Love what you do and you will never be able to stop!
Do not stop, Misha, and good luck to you in all your endeavors! And always remember you can count on us :)
Contact Mykhaylo: [email protected]