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December 19, 202311 min read

From Learning to Code at 13 to Being a Startup Founder at 15

Tim is a 17 year old Founder and Software Developer from Germany, he shares his journey going from learning to code at 13 to starting his own software company at 15

Inside Tim's Setup

setups and workspaces
setups and workspaces
setups and workspaces
setups and workspaces

Hey Tim, glad to have you here, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi, thanks for having me! My name is Tim Kumpat and I’m a 17 year old software engineer, founder and high school student from Germany. I started building websites when I was 13 and started my own company that does B2B web development and B2C app development at the age of 15. Besides that I also work at Nordcloud, an IBM company where I do Cloud development.

How did you learn to code and what sparked your interest in software development at such a young age?

The first thing I remember that really sparked my interest for tech in general was when I was nine and got my first smartphone. I used to reset it all the time, just to set it up again because I was so fascinated by the tech behind.

A few years later in 2020, when I was 13, I stumbled across web development on YouTube and started to teach myself how to build websites. From that point on I did a lot of tutorials, read many articles but most importantly built website projects.

In 2021 I also did my first software related internship at a web design company in Munich. In the summer of 2023 I had an amazing internship at Nordcloud. Now they even gave me the opportunity to work for them besides high school which is just amazing since I haven’t seen a lot of companies that provide those opportunities to young people. Those internships and also this new job taught me so much for which I’m super grateful.

I founded Jump Webdesign, my B2B web development company, in March 2022 when I was 15 and so far it’s one of the best things I have ever done.

The thing I love about software development the most is that you can start learning about it for free and teach yourself. As long as you have a laptop and an internet connection you can learn basically anything about it.

Being a startup founder and a high school student, how do you manage your time?

Oh yeah, that can get difficult sometimes but I think it’s still manageable. Something that really helped me was getting up early and getting some work done before school. I go to bed at 10:30PM and wake up at 4:30AM. After waking up, I get some hours of work done before I head to school. After my school ends ( between 1PM and 5PM, depending on the day) I get back to work. During the evening I either continue working from home or head to Munich for a developer / networking event. I usually work between 5 and 12 hours per day on either my own company, my software engineering skills or for Nordcloud.

You may wonder if there is anything besides work during my days and even though there are a lot of days where it’s basically just work, there are still evenings where I go for a walk with my family or afternoons where I go on a trip with friends and it’s super important to me to keep that!

What do you plan to do after high school, do you have any plans to pursue a degree?

I will graduate from high school in June 2024 and my current plan looks like this: I’m going to take a gap year in which I can concentrate fully on work and gain practical experience. Afterwards in fall 2025, it’s my plan to start studying computer science at the amazing Technical University of Munich (TUM).

What would you say is the hardest thing about running a startup and what lessons have you learned along the way?

First things first: You should start a company because you love what you do and believe in the idea. Not to call yourself a “founder”.

Why am I saying that? Because over the last years I recognized that a lot of young people want to do their own startup. And that’s amazing! But a good portion of the people I met and talked to wanted to become a founder just for the sake of being a founder. And in my opinion that’s the wrong order.

But besides your actual business idea, the amount of work hours you put in is the thing that matters most in my opinion.

Another thing I had to do to a certain extent was to sacrifice a part of my teenage life. There were a lot of situations where I decided to work instead of going to parties or attending a conference instead of going on a trip with friends. Of course, I didn’t lose all my friends and now work 24/7, but it definitely changed the relationship with my friends and also the quantity of how often we do something together.

You seem passionate about inspiring other young people to learn coding. Why do you think it's so important to get young people interested in software engineering?

I think that a lot of young people would like the topic but if they for example learn computer science in school where the topics are already 20 years old, that doesn’t really spark any interest about the topic right?

Another thing I saw is that people watched a couple tutorials but then quit. And I think oftentimes that’s not because they disliked the topic, instead they might have chosen the wrong technology to start with or they watched a bad tutorial.

So I think providing more opportunities to young people that allow them to get to know the topic better really would make a difference! And also if they won’t pursue a career in tech, I think it will be quite important to have at least a certain basic knowledge about technology in the future.

In the last months a lot of young people approached me and asked if it was possible to maybe have a quick conversation. I love those calls! So feel free to reach out to me! Either via LinkedIn or via the contact information provided on my portfolio website.

What advice would you give another young person or anyone who wants to get started coding?

That’s a great question! I would recommend the following:

  1. Don’t ever give up If you just started out, coding can be quite overwhelming. Especially because there are so many technologies to know about and so much is going on. But don’t worry. It’s like a map that you have to explore and day after day you know more about the landscape! So consistency is key here!

  2. Surround yourself with people that know more than you I recognized this especially during my internships and now also in my job at Nordcloud. In conversations quite often topics come up that I don’t know about yet but after the conversation I know something new and that’s great! And if the topic sounded interesting, it’s also a good idea to maybe google the topic in order to understand it even further. Such things might take 1 to 2 minutes but they teach you something completely new!

  3. Reach out! Most people in this industry are super nice. So I would recommend reaching out to people you find inspiring. Even in a quick conversation with them you can learn a lot!

Have you ever been affected by impostor syndrome and if so, how did you deal with it?

Yes and I think most people that started out young experienced it. But don’t get afraid by it, it’s totally normal. Especially when I started going to developer meetups I always felt it. But also online, when I started using LinkedIn and I found more and more people that achieved more than me, I started to compare myself.

And to some extent that’s a good thing because it’s great to have role models that you can look up to, but if you start to feel bad because you’re intimidated by others, that’s when it’s too much in my opinion.

To deal with it I changed my mindset from “Help, I don’t know what he’s talking about” to “Hey, that’s something I haven’t heard of, let me ask some questions to learn something new!”. On top of that I started to compare myself with myself a week ago, instead of other people.

Every developer that knows more than you was at your skill level at some point, so they know how you feel. See it as a chance to learn from them!

You mentioned that you speak at conferences and attend about 1 meet up every week, why do you think putting yourself out there and networking is so important?

Yes, my biggest talk was this November in London at the Google Developer Groups Devfest London. And not just the talk was an amazing experience, also the whole trip to London for a weekend was super cool!

Regarding the meetups, there is just something exciting about meeting new people, learning from them and getting to know their perspectives. I think it’s actually a great way to learn because oftentimes you get introduced to topics you would have never researched yourself. Everytime I go to those events, I attend mostly Google Developer Groups and to be specific the GDG Cloud Munich, I know a little bit more and I think especially in this industry it’s super important to learn as much as possible because everything is changing rapidly.

Networking definitely changed my career. I made so many amazing connections throughout 2023 and I’m really grateful for them. I also think that networking can really help your career when it comes to finding new opportunities like speaking engagements, internships or jobs.

Lastly, what are your career goals and where do you see your software engineering career going long-term?

Something I want to do more in the future is public speaking. I started doing it this year and had a lot of fun. I really recommend that because it taught me so much about presenting and explaining.

Also I would like to teach more. I started teaching three friends of mine how to code this summer and we’re still doing courses (~ once per week) and I really enjoy teaching, preparing those courses, reviewing their code etc.

From a technical point of view, I’m currently learning a lot about using (caution, buzzword alert 😉) LLMs in applications (mostly with Google Cloud Vertex AI) and I really want to strengthen my knowledge in this area.

Regarding my own company, I’m currently allocating a lot of my time to building coodev, an app that connects students to work on real world projects together and I’m on track to launch it in the first half of 2024.

But the thing that is most important to me is continuous and lifelong learning. That’s something I really don’t ever want to stop.


Huge thanks to Tim for making the time to chat with us, if you would like to connect with him consider reaching out to him on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed this article then you'll surely enjoy our newsletter. If you haven't already, consider dropping your email so you don't miss out when we drop a new article. Lastly, checkout our jobs page if you're looking for a new developer job. Till next time, keep debugging!

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