Developing an ANTrepreneurial Spirit

May 19, 2015

Computer science freshman Alec Kriebel created and released an iOS app development course with the help of UCI’s Blackstone LaunchPad.

Computer science freshman Alec Kriebel first demonstrated his entrepreneurialism in the fourth grade. At his elementary school just outside of Reading, Pa., Kriebel established a small comics “company” with his classmates. They called it Bob Co. Comics —“something that a fourth grader would think of,” Kriebel quips today.

“We would doodle comics during class. We wouldn’t even copy them to hand them out. We would just sell the handmade comics. … It was the first thing I did, business-wise,” he says.

This enterprising attitude followed Kriebel to UC Irvine, where he created a comprehensive “How to Develop iOS Apps” course before completing his first year. With 11 apps already published in the iOS app store, he conceived of a course that would guide novice beginners through the ins and outs of app development. He found a platform for his concept at UC Irvine’s Blackstone LaunchPad, a co-curricular student program that offers mentorship and resources for budding entrepreneurs, fondly dubbed ANTrepeneurs.

“The consulting at the Blackstone LaunchPad is great. It really helped with the business aspects of [the course] like business planning, how to price your product, how to get it to the most people possible, marketing, and press releases,” Kriebel says.

The app development course spans nine chapters with 68 total video lessons, many of which Kriebel uploads to his YouTube account for free. From programming language lessons to User Interface (UI) design tutorials, he guides beginners through every aspect of app development with candor and ease. The course, sold in three different packages all under $50, culminates with students’ app releases in the iOS app store.

Delving Into Innovation
What compelled Kriebel to produce such an in-depth course? As a self-taught developer, he “noticed there were no good resources that could take you from no programming experience to having the knowledge and programming to release your first app.” Not only did he want to provide a repository of development resources for novice programmers, but because he learned online, he “also wanted to give back to the online community that taught him.”

With a full haul of classes and numerous co-curricular commitments, Kriebel honed his time-management skills to complete the course in less than three quarters. He spent his holidays filming video segments, using after-class time (and most of Spring Break) to edit footage and finesse a business plan. Ultimately, he compressed countless hours of footage into over 10.5 hours of course segments accompanied by 56 different code examples. “I pretty much had a full-time job over break just editing video,” Kriebel says with a laugh.

Kriebel’s interest in app development coincided with the first iPhone release. “I’ve always loved Apple products,” he says. “I come from a Mac family, so when I heard that you can develop apps for anything iOS, I really liked that idea.” With help from a friend, Kriebel delved into iOS development. He amassed enough knowledge to start freelance developing in high school. His first big gig was Instamour, a video streaming dating app. Kriebel served as the company’s lead iOS developer in his senior year of high school.

In addition to app development, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fascinates Kriebel. His first exposure to the aircraft came when he joined engineering design project “UAV Forge.” As a member of the computer science and artificial intelligence division, Kriebel contributed to the team’s innovative quadcopter, which received accolades at the Engineering Winter Design Review. Shortly after the project, Kriebel proceeded to build a quadcopter by himself.

Focused on Success
Kriebel gravitated toward the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) as a place that would nurture his programming needs and entrepreneurialism. “I also really wanted to come to California,” he says. “I’m from Pennsylvania and there’s not a very big need for programming there.” He notes that he’s been inundated with knowledge since starting school and has already learned multiple programming languages.

“The things that I’m learning now are very applicable to everyday life. I can see myself using what I’m learning in class now for not only job experience in the future, but also personal projects,” he says, noting that this is not only the busiest period of his life yet but also the most he’s learned in a short amount of time.

As for the future, Kriebel is focused on success with his video course and continued entrepreneurialism. “My dream is definitely founding entrepreneurial businesses,” he says. “I really like making things that I feel need to be created and that benefit people.”

“Work hard, but more importantly, explore your interests,” Kriebel urges his peers. “It’s really important for personal and professional development.”

Check out Alec Kriebel’s projects and blog on his website.

— Story by Courtney Hamilton
— Photo and video by Robert Farmer

Watch a special ICS Student Profile on Alec Kriebel:

UCI ICS Feature: Developing an ANTrepreneurial Spirit