Nicolas el-Mir: 17-year-old prodigy, from Lebanon to Silicon Valley

In order to inspire, El Mir aspired.
by Maria Mattar

5 February 2018 | 14:50

Source: by Annahar

  • by Maria Mattar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 5 February 2018 | 14:50

This photo shows Nicholas speaking at UK-Lebanon Tech Hub conference. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas el-Mir)

BEIRUT: The 17-year-old Lebanese coding prodigy, Nicolas el-Mir is on a mission to inspire teenagers to “break the rules” and design their own path instead of conforming to the step- by- step life instruction manual created by previous generations.

In order to inspire, El Mir aspired.

It all started when he was only nine years old. His computer was his best friend as he spent most of his time playing PC games. When he got introduced to the Internet, he seized the opportunity to create apps on it.

El Mir noted how he executed his idea.

“I thought to myself: if I can search and learn anything on Google, why not learn how to create my own applications? I spent hours researching and working on my computer after school. After several trials, I was able to create my own net browser called NEO. It is a browser that changes color according to the website I enter,” he told Annahar.

El Mir was 12-years-old when Windows 8 was released. He was interested in creating apps on it so he decided to contact Microsoft Lebanon to know more about it. Consequently, he sent an email expressing his enthusiasm toward digital knowledge. Then, he was invited to a meeting where they were mesmerized by his knowledge and the applications he worked on.

As a result, he was integrated in Microsoft’s student partners’ network, where he was introduced to the developers’ community. He attended many events and won several competitions despite his very young age.

At the age of 15, he came up with a new podcast and named it “Podle,” which allows the users to find and listen to audio files related to their interest. He pitched his idea in the event of Arab Net where he found an investor.

One of Nicolas’s dreams had always been discovering Silicon Valley. Hence he researched the Internet to find a way to get there. At the age of 16, he stumbled upon Draper University, a Silicon Valley school that offers a two months program that teaches entrepreneurship.

Although Draper University requires its applicants to be between 18 and 28 years old, El Mir still confidently applied and was accepted for a scholarship after a Skype meeting.

El Mir faced financial hurdles. 

“Even though I had a scholarship, I needed money for other expenses. I started a campaign on the internet to raise $8,000. I raised the money and went to California where my dream came true in Silicon Valley,” he said.

Even though El Mir is back to his regular school days, he still finds time to work on his coding goals.

His friends helped him build his own team, despite having different majors, contributing to the success that he was after. 

As for his education, El Mir is planning on “trying” college in Lebanon; he insists on staying in the country to see how technology is evolving in it. Nevertheless, he hopes to continue his Graduate studies in the USA.

El Mir pointed out his ultimate advice to teenagers.

“Since we are kids, we are programmed to live our lives in a certain way, as the fear of thinking differently is planted inside of us. I always thought to myself, why think like everyone else when one can have his own perception?” He told Annahar.

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Annahar's "Faces of Lebanon" is an occasional series that takes a look at talented young Lebanese. We encourage you nominating candidates and telling us their story. Send your nominations to: tkmaloy@gmail.com

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