Twenty-three year old Tyler White of Santa Fe, NM won the $10,000 top prize in an international program design contest for iPhone and iPad applications this summer. The iPad app integrates Flickr photos with an interactive satellite map. Basically it is based on Google maps using Flickr photos. About 15,000 users have purchased the Flickr Photo Map from the Apple iTunes Store to date.
In our town, this is a local-boy-make-good story, especially as White is an unemployed college dropout – or was before he began to build apps. He is now making a living off the sales of three Apple iPhone and iPad apps that he designed, one of which was the prize winner.
This type of entrepreneurship is not new – Apple founder Steve Jobs, founder of Dell, Michael Dell, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, all went to founding their own companies without passing through the hallowed gates of college.
To support this type of innovator, Peter Thiel, PayPal cofounder and Facebook backer, established a foundation to administer grants to people under 20 “to further their innovative scientific and technical ideas.” Those awarded grants would not be able to go to school during the two years of their grant fellowship. There are 20 $100,000 grants available.
This offer caused great dissent in the press and among politicians, but on the other hand, with the rising costs of a college education, who is to say this is not a viable option for those talented in this direction?