By Sharon Chin


SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Working out of a family garage, two teenaged friends are making it possible for thousands of students to get real-world experience in computer science.

High school seniors Arnav Joshi and Nikhil Sharma help teenagers coordinate hackathons that provide mentors and resources for free.

Arnav Joshi and Nikhil Sharma (CBS)

“They can literally let their creativity go wild,” Joshi said.

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16-year-old Grace Huang has worked on how to access neighborhood crime data and other projects. “I get to freely create something that I like fall in love with and design something that uses my computer science skills,” said Huang.

Joshi and Sharma met as freshmen at Harker High School in San Jose. After taking part in their first hackathon off campus, they were hungry for more.

“There’s a lot of college hackathons, a lot of company hackathons. We realized there were a lot students 18-and-under who weren’t getting the same opportunities,” Sharma noted.

The pair ran their first hackathon at their school and didn’t stop there. They co-founded the nonprofit 18 Tech Ventures, which has kept them very busy over the last year. “We’ve run almost 53 events in five countries around the globe,” said Joshi.

18 Tech Ventures guides teenagers with the blueprints to organize their own hackathons. Joshi and Sharma provide speakers, sponsors, mentors and marketing.

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At a recent event, they advised organizer Yash Jain on budgeting questions, and securing the space at software firm Big Switch.

“As high school students, I found it really impressive that they were able to create such a large-scale organization that’s so successful,” said Jain.

It’s also impressive that Joshi and Sharma have their own technology patents and founded a company together. The technology is similar to Apple Pay, but allows one to make a payment between any two devices.

But it’s through their nonprofit that they want to empower their peers.

“Our main goal is to inspire innovation,” Joshi said.

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