The enduring achievement of most 15-year-olds is passing the exam for their driver's permit. Jackson Gariety, on the other hand, made a Web app that landed him awards for Best Developer and Most Crowd-Pleasing Product at the Portland Startup Weekend developer conference.
HashTraffic (now folded into Gariety's new Canary) is an API plug-in that allows website authors and bloggers to use Twitter-like hashtags in their content. Click on, for example, #butter, and a new window opens that shows search results looking for that same hashtag. But rather than be limited to just one site, you could see everything anybody posted about #butter across any number of platforms.
Of course, Gariety acknowledges, "There's no way to make money off it. It's an interesting concept and bold in a way, but I don't know how to sell it.â
Nonetheless, HashTraffic and his Startup Weekend presentation were impressive enough to nudge open many doors for Gariety, now 17. Earlier this year, he was invited by TechStars program manager Gregg Cochran to work as a technical developer for the Nike+ Accelerator, a startup program that fosters companies interested in working with the sportswear giant's Nike+ and NikeFuel products.
His notoriety has also helped bring attention to some of his other efforts—including OpenHacker, a weekly competition for developers and coders, and Canary, his startup that will help brand managers stay on top of social-media trends.
Gariety dropped out of Grant High School in early 2013 to pursue his coding projects. "I kind of stopped going back in February," he says. "My parents weren't too happy about that, but I wasn't getting anything out of it.â
The hope is that Canary will eventually be snapped up by a high-profile client or two ("Someone big…a brand that my mom knows," Gariety says), but until then the teen is going to be looking for a larger startup to join forces with. "I'm trying to figure out what's going to play out over the next couple of months," he says. "My hope is that when I'm there at Techfest, I can talk about how I found my own path and encourage people to blaze their own trail."
Still, he says his own trail is just beginning. "It's really difficult and I'm still struggling, but it's a good struggle to have.â
TFNW profiles: Rick Turoczy (TFNW curator, PIE PDX), Tyson Evans (NYTimes), Ward Cuningham (Wiki Inventor), Michelle Rowley (Code Scouts), Jackson Gariety (TechStars, teen entrepreneur)
TFNW features: MFNW Installation by Instrument, PDX Drone Challenge, Google Gogglers
Tickets and official site: techfestnw.com
GO: Jackson Gariety speaks about starting out in startups Friday, Sept. 6, on the PDC Stage, OMNIMAX at OMSI. 2:30 pm.