Daniel is studying broadcasting and digital media at the College of San Mateo, California but also runs his own company, Teens in Tech Labs. Founded in 2008 when he was 15, it provides tools and resources for young entrepreneurs.
Alongside this he is associate producer of Olive the Movie: the first full-length feature film shot 100 per cent on a mobile phone, and is an advisor at Everyme, a company which is building an address book for mobile phones to help users stay in touch with their favourite people.
In the past he has also been involved with JESS3, a creative agency that specialises in data visualisation and he was part of the original founding team of Oik, a mobile video provider that was bought by Skype in 2011.
For an 18-year-old, his LinkedIn profile reads more like that of someone three /four times his age, detailing involvement in more than a dozen technology companies and ventures. The IET spoke to Daniel about his passion for technology and his career experiences so far…
How do you balance being a technology student with running a company and various projects?
When I first got into technology, balancing high school and tech was quite hard. My parents helped a lot by being great role models but it always came down to priorities. I knew that high school was always number one and everything else came second. College has a lot of ups and downs but one of the big advantages is letting me take classes that I would never had an opportunity to, like video production.
What triggered your interest in technology?
I've always been interested in how things worked. I asked a lot of questions when I was really young and it translated to computers. Both my parents work in the tech industry, so I've always been surrounded by it, but in middle school I started playing around with computers. That's how it all started.
What was your first job in technology?
Working at a company called Remend, which made software for banks to manage their foreclosed properties. My dad worked at the company and I was already at the office everyday so they offered me an internship that ended up lasting almost two years. I was an IT associate, and got to learn a whole lot. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had.
How did you come up with the idea for Teens in Tech?
I first got the idea in late 2007/early 2008. I wanted to meet other like-minded young people who liked tech and entrepreneurship. Since then, Teens in Tech has created a platform for young entrepreneurs to not only meet others through our conference but we also help entrepreneurs build their own companies through our incubator programme.
There were a lot of challenges when setting up Teens in Tech. First of all, I was 15 years old and not too many people took me, or Teens in Tech seriously. Trying to get people to understand the mission behind it and why it's important took a lot longer than I had hoped. I'd like to think I'm good at delegating, but we have an amazing team in place at Teens in Tech. If it wasn't for them, none of the projects we do would be here today.
Tell us more about your incubator program?
It is an eight-week summer program held in Mountain View, California that aims to take five teams of young entrepreneurs and help them build their start-up over the course of the summer. It's a hands-on program and we bring in a lot of industry leaders and mentors to come in and work with the teams. We had our first batch last summer, and will have our next batch this summer.
What are your longer-term career aims?
For me, personally, I tend not to think too far out in terms of my future. I know what I love, and what I like doing, and as long as I keep doing that, I'll be happy with whatever I do.
What advice do you have for fellow techies who are good at coming up with ideas but aren't sure how to take things a step further?
Just keep pushing forward. If you can't build it now, doesn't mean you can't build it tomorrow, or a week from now, or even a month for now. A great idea can always come to life if you truly believe in it.