Jordan Casey: Six challenges I face as a 14-year-old tech chief executive
Jordan Casey is a Waterford-based 14-year-old entrepreneur who set up Casey Games, an apps development firm that has had hits games such as Greenboy Touch, Alien Ball V Humans and Food World.
Here, he outlines the challenges he faces as a teenage tech prodigy.
1. I can’t sign contracts
There are a lot of legal restrictions because of my age. The major one is that because I'm under 18 I can't be a director of the company. So my parents have to do that. Likewise, when it comes to signing contracts, I have to also get a signature from parents. I'd have a good say in how the bank account is run, however. Any money I make goes back into costs, such as license fees, software and paying back my parents, who are a great support.
2. It’s harder to get staff and professional assistance
Considering my age, I can’t have staff members. I also can’t actually run an office. Luckily, a lot of my friends (and my brother) are interested in technology. I’ve taught them a bit of programming and now we have something of a team. We don’t work in a physical office but we work online together. We share ideas and our work through platforms like Skype. I think this could be the future of the workplace.
3. Being taken seriously can be a problem
The major problem faced by a 14 year old CEO is being taken seriously. I’ve tried on numerous occasions to get support, investment, help, staff and other things like that. But because I’m so young, people just dismiss it as ‘cute’ or even ‘silly’. Some think that “I’m doing it for fun” or that it’s just a game. To be fair, there is a flip side to this in that I also get a lot of publicity because of my age. And this probably helps to boost my products. In 2013, I visited Silicon Valley to speak at a conference where I got the chance to see what the start-up ecosystem is like. I noticed that a lot more young people were succeeding and getting investment. Age was not a barrier there. The focus was more on the business idea than the person. This seems to be changing in Europe a lot now for the better.
4. I can’t work at it full time
I can’t work on my business full time due to school work and, well, just being a kid. So I try to work out a balance. After school I study for two hours. Then when I get home I work on the business for a while. At the weekend I just take a break from everything and go out and play with my friends. Is the business a major distraction from school? I wouldn’t say so. I have to miss a bit of school for conferences and things, but I still find school and studies to be as important as they were before I started the businesses.
5. I sometimes get a bit swamped
I get a lot of emails and invitations to things, which I love. But sometimes it’s hard to keep track and respond to them all. My parents are good to keep me up to date, but sometimes with the pressure of school and study I am not always up to date on my responses. It’s important also that I deal with my own correspondence as my parents aren’t techie-minded and sometimes don’t understand.
6. There just isn’t time to develop all the ideas I have
I get great ideas for games, applications and more. But many times I can’t develop these ideas while continuing to keep developing the products I have. So sometimes I see these ideas get developed elsewhere. They’re not exactly the same, but they sometimes have a similar theme. That sometimes frustrates me.
In general, Casey Games is going great. I recently submitted a new app which I plan to have available soon. Another startup I’m doing, TeachWare, is currently in development. We are building an entire school management system which we hope to have available sometime in the next year. I regard myself as very lucky in that I know I want to work in this industry and am clear about what I want for my future. Sometimes it’s frustrating, though, as I have to wait a few more years before I can really realise my dreams.
Jordan Casey’s apps are available for iPhone and Android. His website is CaseyGamesWebsite.blogspot.ie.