Shane Curran, the 12-year-old programmer who has been coding since he was just six years old, is now turning his hand to business, with his start-up Libramatic due to launch at Dublin Beta this coming Monday, 30 July.
“Libramatic provides an automated smartphone and web-based library system,” explains Curran, who was inspired to create the service when his school spent a large sum of money on a library system that didn’t do much to help librarians.
“You had to type everything in manually and it was just so hard on the librarians, so I decided it needed to be more modern and updated and I just thought of Libramatic,” says Shane.
With Libramatic, users simply scan the book’s ISBN code using the camera on a smartphone, then the service finds the book’s information online and stores this in the library’s database so that the book can be loaned out and returned.
Curran leads a team developing this service and plans to implement it in his own school, but first comes the launch on Monday. “It’s at Dublin Beta, which is an event where 12 start-ups will present a demo and some of them are launching,” he explains. “It’s really one of the only events around like it, so I just decided to launch there.”
From pre-teen programmer to entrepreneur
Curran sees it as a natural progression to go from a programmer to an entrepreneur, and while he might seem too young to be a businessman, he has been coding since he could read and write.
“I started playing games when I was about four or five and I decided I wanted to make a few websites for cheats, so I learned how to programme HTML and I created a few websites,” he says. “Then I got really interested in programming and since then I’ve been working on a lot of stuff.”
Curran, who now knows eight programming languages, is self-taught, and is also a frequent participant in James Whelton’s CoderDojo initiative, which recently celebrated its first anniversary. While at these events, he notices how more young people’s ideas could easily break into business.
“There’s so many ideas out there that just could be worked on,” he says. “You don’t need a whole lot of experience with coding, you can just build up a team of a few people and then start a start-up very easily.”
CoderDojo is extremely popular among kids Curran’s age and even younger, but volunteers are needed to keep the service afloat. “We have enough, it’s just we could do with more,” Curran says. “In the Dublin CoderDojo there’s a waiting list of over 300 people. We don’t have a lot of mentors, so there is a lot of demand and they’ll be running around the room, screaming for help.”