When Nick Mihailou, a Sydney high school student, isn’t hiding his nose in homework and assignments, he’s busy earning extra money as a tech entrepreneur at an app development firm.
Mihailou launched his startup Appstra, 15 years old and as CEO, now has a team of 10 working alongside him as he forges six-figure contracts to build apps for startups and businesses across Australia. Now that he’s 16, his equity in other startups has made him a paper millionaire as he juggles college and being a founder and investor.
The teen said he has been obsessed with business and technology for six years. His first venture as a little boy was a lemonade stand. After learning to code on his primary school playground, he launched his first app on the App Store and went on to become the youngest App Store developer in Australia.
After meeting Apple executives at exclusive events to discuss the app landscape when he was only 13, he decided that setting up an app development company would be the next step of his natural development.
He launched Appstra with just $200 in capital and spent the past two years building the agency to a point where it is now self-sufficient and fully featured.
“When I started the company, I had to develop everything myself. Being able to hire and manage professional developers is something I am extremely proud of,” he said.
His buddy joked that he’s the next Mark Zuckerberg, but in terms of his heroes, Mihailou looks closer to home, inspired by the founders of Atlassian, Afterpay and Canva.
“People like Scott Farquhar, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Nick Molnar and Melanie Perkins are the leaders and entrepreneurs I aspire to, and hopefully follow in their footsteps; to put Aussie tech start-ups on the map,” he said.
And he’s not shy when it comes to advice, recently enlisted local entrepreneur Mark Bouris as a mentor and also plucked the brains of American billionaire Mark Cuban.
“I emailed Mark Cuban after I received a takeover offer for software I had developed. He responded by giving me some advice and saying, “If you’re smart enough to get that big? offer that you’re smart enough to decide what to do!’,’ he said.
“Me and my co-founder finally got the offer, but it was still great to have the support of one of my role models”
In addition to his ambition to become a highly successful tech entrepreneur, Mihailou also wants to be positive impact the education system and the Australian startup ecosystem.
“While I’ve done a lot for my age, I still believe that I can be a catalyst for the next generation of young entrepreneurs to be inspired and try to follow the same path as me,” he said.
“As the entire startup ecosystem grows in Australia the opportunities will no doubt be ripe.”