By Kiersten Tomson
Austin Valleskey is not your typical high school student.
He’s a senior at Wheaton Academy where he plays volleyball, studies AP statistics and macroeconomics, and he’s even taking an intro to dance class right now.
But it’s not Valleskey’s dance moves that set him apart.
In his spare time, for fun, he’s created and built more than 10 apps.
“One of the first apps I made was called Veer and it was a simple movement game,” recalls Valleskey. “It took me about a week to make but my business teacher saw I made it and she made an announcement at school, telling everyone about it. Before I knew it, it had 5 thousand downloads or so.”
When Valleskey was 15, (only THREE years ago), he combined forces with a friend in Australia to create a new gaming app, called Impossible Rush.
“It’s a simple idea with a rotating cube and I figured I would make it,” explains Valleskey. “So, it’s a Saturday night and I stayed up all night and did it. I didn’t think much of it, but that people would have fun with it, I would enjoy it and my friends would enjoy it.”
But a week later, more than just Valleskey and his friends were playing the brain-teaser game.
Thousands people around the world had downloaded the Impossible Rush app.
At its peak, it was ranked #16 for most downloaded app – beating out Tinder, Netflix and Skype.
“I thought it was incredible that two kids were able to beat them out and that so many people enjoyed it, that’s what I loved,” says Valleskey.
The game went on to be downloaded more than a million times and Valleskey was soon traveling to speak at conferences while being featured on WGN, Business Insider and named in Forbes’ list of start-ups you’ve never heard of should.
“We were able to get a lot of media and our whole idea wasn’t to glorify ourselves, we wanted to show younger kids that yes you can do this, follow through with your ideas and who knows what will happen,” says Valleskey.
Since then, Impossible Rush has been sold to a gaming company and Valleskey is working on his next project, Uplift.
“It gave me motivation to try harder things – that would definitely take a lot more time and commitment,” explains Valleskey. “I’ve had a lot more fun with long term projects that have deeper meaning than just a simple game.”
The idea of the Uplift app came to him while studying for the SAT’s at a local Starbucks.
“At that point, I was tired of studying and really just drained out and someone tapped me on my shoulder and said, ‘hey I noticed you are studying for the SAT, I just wanted to wish you good luck on it and you’ll do great.”
The nice gesture threw Valleskey for a loop, so much so, he remembered it all the way to the test day.
“Even though I was stressed, that one little moment that meant so much to me,” recalls Valleskey. “I wanted to make those made-my-day-moments as frequent and easy as possible. That’s the whole mission behind Uplift.”
When you open the app, it will show you a profile with a bio and it will prompt you to say something nice. As simple as that.
Uplift is slated to launch this month.
But until then, he really just wants to continue to uplift others.
“I just want to serve as a good example,” explains Valleskey. “Whether it’s creating an app downloaded over a million times or becoming a doctor, I want kids to “reach for the stars” and find their passion. I strongly believe the earlier you find your passion in life, the more time you can devote to it and get closer to your goals.”