When Sydney high school student Nick Mihailou doesn’t have his nose buried in homework and assignments, he’s busy moonlighting as a tech entrepreneur with an app development agency.
Mihailou launched his startup Appstra, aged 15, and as CEO, now has a team of 10 working beside him as he takes on six-figure contracts to build apps for startups and companies across Australia. Now 16, his equity in other startups has made him a paper millionaire as he juggles studying with being a founder and investor.
The teen said he’s been obsessed with business and technology for the better part of six years. His first venture as a small boy was a lemonade stand. After learning how to code from the playground of his primary school, he launched his first app to the App Store, subsequently becoming the youngest App Store developer in Australia.
After experiences with meeting Apple executives at exclusive events to discuss the app landscape when he was only 13, he decided that creating an app-development business would be the next step of his natural progression.
He launched Appstra with just $200 in capital, spending the past two years building the agency to a point where it is now self-sufficient and completely bootstrapped.
“When I started the business, I had to develop everything myself. To now be able to hire professional developers and manage them is something that I am extremely proud of,” he said.
His mate joke 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 be like, 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 enlisting local entrepreneur Mark Bouris as a mentor and also picking the brains of US billionaire Mark Cuban.
“I emailed Mark Cuban after I received an acquisition offer for software I had developed. He responded by giving me some advice and saying, ‘If you are smart enough to get that big an offer you are smart enough to decide what to do!’,” he said.
“Me and my co-founder ended up declining the offer, but it was still amazing to get the support of one of my role models”
Alongside his ambition to become a highly successful tech entrepreneur, Mihailou also wants to positive impact the education system and Australian startup ecosystem.
“While I’ve done a lot for my age, I still believe I can be a catalyst for the next generation of young entrepreneurs to become inspired and try to take the same path I did,” he said.
“With the entire startup ecosystem growing in Australia, there’s no doubt opportunities will be ripe.”