October 26, 2012
17-year-old Alaxic Smith is from a small town in Texas of 80,000 people. “No one has this mentality that they want to build anything,” he says. So he moved to San Francisco, where they do.
Was it tough, I asked? “Not exactly,” he says. “The toughest part is probably just airport security.” (laughing) “It’s kind of weird, but I don’t mind being alone.”
Smith is staying in the middle of SOMA, San Francisco’s startup haven, with a designer he met at Startup Weekend Dallas. He’s been working on Communly, a site that lets people create communities around their interests. For now, it shows users all the latest tweets and Instagram photos of Johnny Depp or Skyfall or whatever else they fancy. The site is launching in beta today.
A similar idea has already been tried by Crowdspoke, which ended up moving on to a different one. But Smith doesn’t really listen to naysayers, and he’s ready to work hard. “I really like challenges,” he says. “You just feel this adrenaline and this rush.”
Smith started coding and designing at a young age, borrowing computer science books from his friend’s university professor-father. Before he could drive, he had launched a quote and phrase site called LikeBench; in high school, he was working on SwiftSharing, a social network for students.
But Smith hasn’t finished high school and might not return. After some “relentless” persuading of his parents, he now spends only 30 percent of his time in his hometown. And he “doubts” he’ll make it to college.
Says Smith, “The way I see things, I kind of know what I want to do, and I’m going after it.”
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