Behind the screen: Coding with Will Jamieson

It was in eighth grade that Atlanta-native Will Jamieson, first fell in love with computer programming. It started as a fascination in the purest form.  He was enamored by the sheer capacity that he could program his calculator to do his homework for him. Not long afterwards, he made his first iPhone app at the age of 16.

“I just became hooked on this efficiency of life and from there I went on to really dive into my passion of coding. There’s obviously a lot more that can be done than a calculator,” he said.

It sounds simple, right? This should’ve been a sign. While Jamieson did try his hand at graphic design and video effects, it was inevitable that he would one day return to his passion.

“The app game is so much more fun because you have the concept of making something and having millions of people using something you’ve created. It’s such a rewarding experience,” he said.

Now in the midst of his junior year at the College, Jamieson has created seven different apps, with two additional projects in the developmental stage. One

Photo by Wesley Vance.

(Photo by Wesley Vance)

of these apps has spread like wildfire to over 600 campuses across the country and currently ranks as the #5 free app in the iTunes App Store.  That’s right; Jamieson is one of the three founders of the popular anonymous messaging app that has everyone talking: Yik Yak.

Jamieson created the app in cohorts with two students from Furman University, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, but it was his skill and experience that led the pair to recruit Jamieson into the project specifically. Soon after, he created the Android component and the trio launched the app.

Jamieson admits that it was his favorite project to work on, because of its huge success. However, his own ‘yaks’ have most certainly decreased in number since its inception.  “I still love to use it, but I used to spend all day on it – that was my life,” he said.

In June, the founders had already secured $11.5 million in investment money to continue the project.  While Jamieson remains a co-founder and shareholder in Yik Yak, he no longer codes for the company.

“I decided I wanted to stay in school.  I really just want to get the most out of everything and what the school has to offer,” Jamieson said.  He has done just that by getting involved with various organizations and auditing additional classes just for the purpose of learning.

Although he continues to work on various projects, Jamieson is committed to having the full college experience.  He is a member of the club tennis team, the Intercollegiate Programming Competition (ICPC) team and the Hackathon team.  When asked how he balances his busy schedule, he replied, “I just find myself not getting a lot of sleep.”

Perhaps Jamieson’s lack of sleep is what fuels his savvy problem solving.  While he was unable to share details, it’s clear that he is working on some very exciting products.

Jamieson’s latest is a long-term music app, which involves group listening in any type of environment.  His schedule is already filled with meetings to discuss the new app, including potential endorsement deals with Cleveland Browns quarterback, Connor Shaw and rapper, Waka Flocka.

Small World, is another app Jamieson is developing which serves networking purposes in various cities.  The idea behind the app is that the world is actually not small at all, as it uses technology to find personal connections in the area where you’re traveling.          

Jamieson explained that he doesn’t brainstorm ideas for apps, but tries to find solutions to problems faced in everyday life.  “I’m not constantly trying to think of ideas.  I’m trying to think of problems that I can fix myself,” he said.

For those who are interested in technology entrepreneurship, Jamieson suggests that learning to code is essential because while everyone has ideas, not many people can execute them.  And there is no better time than the present.

“College is the time to take chances, and if you don’t put yourself out there – then you’ll never know if you will succeed,” he said.

So what’s next?  Jamieson plans to continue developing apps, but not at the expense of his time in college.  One thing’s for certain, we can expect big things from him in the future.

“Post-grad, I’ll be doing my own thing in Charleston.  I still don’t know what.  It could be Small World, it could be my new music app or it could even be something entirely different,” he said.

This article first appeared in the October 2014 issue of The Yard.

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