Sven van der Zee is the indie hacker behind the extremely successful android app Sticker Studio. The app has 10 million users and Sven is still a teenager! Sticker Studio has received coverage from around the world but Sven is a self-taught developer and teen entrepreneur who made the app on his own over one weekend. Keep reading to find out how Sven learned to code, his tips for beginnners and how to be an indie hacker.
Hey, it’s great to have you on board for an interview. Could you give an introduction for developers who want to know more about you?
Hi, my name is Sven. I am a 19 year old software developer from the Netherlands currently running my own app development company. So I build Sticker Studio, a WhatsApp sticker maker app for Android, which got more than 10 million users in the first year and is still growing strong. Right now I am also working on Talkie a voice only messenger app.
Can you tell us what this involves exactly?
So my job involves a lot of creativity, I think of a cool app concept to develop, I create a MVP to test if there is a market for it and if there is I add more features to the app. But most of the time I am working on improving my existing apps such as Sticker Studio which has more than 11 million users.
How did you first get interested in programming?
I think it was wanting to change something on a website I build with a drag and drop editor but could not do it from there, so I learned HTML and CSS to start building my own websites. I was 13 at that time.
How did you learn to code?
I learned the basics from YouTube tutorials and W3Schools in the beginning, now I am mostly on StackOverflow.
Did you ever consider doing a degree in Computer Science?
Yes, I finished high school and did not really know what to do next so I started a CS study. But during the study I founded my company and Sticker Studio started to take off so I dropped out.
What is the most fun thing for you about programming?
The creativity you can put into projects and the potential reach of your products.
Can you talk us through the process of getting your first job as a web developer?
The only job I ever had was an internship at The Next Web, still one of my favorite companies with the nicest people. I reached out to Boris on Twitter and I got an interview immediately.
Has your lack of Computer Science degree ever been brought up when looking for jobs?
Nope. There is such a shortage of software engineers that a degree does not matter.
Do you have any tips for people that are looking for their first job in web development?
Work on side projects! That is the best way to show of your skills and learn a thing or two. You are much more likely to get hired if you have worked on side projects before and maybe you do not even have to look for a job if your side project is doing well.
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