Austin Scholar #81: Five masterpieces from my friends at Alpha
& how to help your teen find their masterpiece-size passion
This week from Austin Scholar...
Five masterpieces from my friends at Alpha
Austin’s Anecdote: My own masterpiece project
Scholar’s Sources: How to help your teen find their masterpiece-size passion
Last week I wrote about what a Masterpiece is. This week I thought I’d make it more tangible and interview five incredible Alpha High students about the masterpieces they’re working on.
Each student I talked to is in a different place in their Masterpiece journey, but every single one is confident they’ll achieve their goal (no matter how crazy it may seem–and some of them are working on super ambitious things).
I’m beyond proud to be a part of this group of high schoolers who don't just want to change the world, but who are actively working on doing so.
Five masterpieces from my friends at Alpha
I interviewed five of my classmates at Alpha. The following are their descriptions, in their own words, of the projects they’re building (and as you’ll see, they’re really, really awesome).
I'm creating the first world-class bike park in Texas by raising $350,000 from investors. I wanted to pursue something entrepreneurial and ambitious, yet something I'm passionate about - mountain biking. And I would consider myself an expert in mountain biking. I spend about 20-30 hours a week mountain biking. It's what I do after school and my social life revolves around it. I've been racing for four years and am interested in trail building. That passion gave birth to the idea for my project.
In my Masterpiece so far, I built a $40,000 bike park on one acre of public land with a lot of help. After completing that smaller bike park, I wanted to create something bigger. So then, I raised $358,000 from 22 equity investors. I closed that deal two months ago. Since then, I've had 30 build days, hired 10 full-time builders, and persuaded a real estate investor to purchase a $3 million property for the park. We're planning to open the bike park on November 3rd. I've completed the full project management plan, hired all the employees, and secured both the real estate and equity investors. So, I'd say we're well into the project.
About the investors, my motivation kicked in January of this year when I was a junior. First, I made a pitch deck and held Zoom calls with people, asking them to help me refine it. I found that many entrepreneurs were willing to help a high school student they'd never met. I then tried to get investors. I attended many conferences downtown and sent about 400 LinkedIn messages to potential investors who had "mountain bike" in their profiles. I also networked on Twitter. After six months, I secured 22 investors.
We're planning to open the park in eight weeks. We just finalized our trail-building crew of ten a few days ago. I'll refine the project management plan and assign specific deadlines and trails to each builder to ensure we're ready by the opening date.
I can't wait to open the bike park. While securing investors and raising the money was exciting, I'm eager to see the culmination of all this work. But, I worry we won't have enough trails built by opening day, or that something might go wrong with the project management plan. I'm also concerned about marketing and attracting enough riders. But I feel confident this will be successful.
If you're interested in the entrepreneurial path of raising money, don't think it's impossible. A year ago, I thought it was impossible for a high school student to raise money for a business of this size. But all it takes is creating a pitch deck, reaching out to people, and starting.
Thomas C (Freshman)
My topic of interest is golf. I'm passionate about making golf more accessible and enjoyable for young people. I've designed an app aimed at connecting golfers to play together. Young golfers often feel intimidated to play with others on the course, either due to their skill level or the social dynamics. My goal is to make the golfing environment more welcoming and enjoyable for them.
This week, I am researching the biometrics of a golf swing. I want to understand how it can improve a golfer's game, boosting their confidence, and enhancing their overall enjoyment on the course. I know the frustration of not playing well, and I want to help others avoid that.
I'm eager to see how far I can go, what I can learn, and how I can enhance people's lives through my masterpiece. But my main worry is failure. I don't want to fall behind or not progress as far as I hope.
I'm confident that I will achieve my goal, whatever it might be.
Teen dating is currently unsafe, and that's why I'm building a safe dating app for millions of teenagers, with the goal of generating one billion dollars in revenue. I have two passions. One is giving advice to help my friends. I'm often referred to as the 'therapist friend' of the group. I always try to help where I can. The second is dating. I'm very passionate about making teen dating safer than it currently is. I have witnessed firsthand the dangers of the internet for teens when it comes to dating, and I want to prevent what happened to me from happening to other teens.
So far, I have gained a following of 150,000 teenagers who trust my advice, and I aim to reach a million by the end of the year. I've also coded and created my own AI chatbot that gives teens advice on their dating problems. I'm soon planning to transform this into an iOS app, which will eventually become the dating app. I'm testing my hypothesis that teens will pay for a better dating experience through my iOS app and chatbot.
Right now, I'm working on filing taxes and figuring out how to overcome the age restriction for an Apple Developer account, as I'm under 18. I'm also building my website because the iOS app is facing some complications, and I want to launch it by the end of this week. In addition, I'm working on getting 15,000 more followers by the end of the week.
I'm excited about tapping into a niche that most companies and people over the age of 18 can't touch. I'm confident in my success and find it thrilling to be successful in something I'm passionate about. I'm looking forward to being in the App Store, being named the number one app for teenagers, and becoming the most followed person on TikTok.
Caleb W (Freshman)
I haven't completely decided on a one-liner yet, but I do know that I want to win an Oscar for creating a movie that points out a specific problem in our world. I believe movies convey messages more effectively than reading material, and that's what I want my masterpiece to be.
I've always created my own stories and loved watching movies. They're my favorite thing, and I can't imagine transitioning to something else. I believe I'm good at storytelling.
I have learned a bit about movie-making by watching many hours of online videos. While I haven't started writing yet, I did participate in a hackathon where my project was to create a movie recommendation app. This required me to research a lot of movies and their genres to input them into the code.
I'm excited about the prospect of making a movie. It's always been a dream of mine to write a story that I can actually produce. It's an ambitious goal, however, so there's a degree of nervousness associated with not achieving it.
I truly believe that I can achieve my goal. I've always loved making movies, and I think I can turn that love into something great.
My one-liner is that I'm going to find the prevention and cure for breast cancer through the connection between food and epigenetics. I discovered a passion for science and reading scientific papers (I know–I really do enjoy reading about epigenetics), specifically on the connection between nutrition and genetic factors. Initially, I had no connections in the health or science field on Twitter. But I started posting summaries of scientific papers, and gradually, I learned about strategies to gain a following. The key realization for me was that it's not about what I've done, but about selling people on what I'm going to do. This way, I made connections with health experts like Dr. Andrew Huberman and many professors studying epigenetics. I got an internship with a start-up company called TrueMed by maintaining good quality content and making connections on Twitter. At TrueMed, I ran their entire social media and helped with research. The company aims to financially incentivize healthy foods by utilizing HSA and FSA funds.
This week, I'm working on making a documentary summarizing my research. I think it's a great way to encapsulate all the research I've done and the connections I've made. I aim to showcase the advancements in health and the importance of focusing on chronic disease issues.
I'm excited about releasing this documentary. Initially, I'll release it on YouTube, but my goal is to get it on Netflix eventually. The documentary, named "Chasing a Cure", aims to convey that we need to focus on preventing diseases rather than merely seeking cures. And since I've never filmed a documentary before and don't know much about screenwriting, I'm a bit nervous about that. But we live in the age of information, so I'm confident I can figure things out.
I believe I can achieve my goal, though it might not happen this year. But I plan to continue working towards this goal for the rest of my life, focusing on the intersection of epigenetics and food. My hope is to impact the curve of cancer cases in America.
Austin’s Anecdote: My own masterpiece project
Since I’ve shared everybody else’s masterpiece, I figured I should also share mine. Here’s my own answer to the question “what are you working on?”: