Thomas is the 16 year old owner and creator of Dassel Software Development. Thank you so much, Thomas, for being an interviewee here at Busy Being Blessed. 🙂
Okay, first of all, I have to mention that I love your mom. She is such a fun friend and encourager to me!
I read through your website’s About Me page and found out a lot about your business. My first question is, what does Dassel mean? I’ve always wondered, since your Home School is called Dassel Academy.
Dassel is the name of a small town in Minnesota that my parents drove through on a trip. They thought it was a cool name so they named our homeschool Dassel Academy. I decided I would name my software company after my homeschool, Dassel Software Development.
Cool! I never would have thought it was a town. What course did you earn a credit for with this project?
This year’s course is called “Programming Windows Apps using C#”. This course required me to learn C# and use that knowledge to produce three apps. Starting the business is a natural progression of that course.
So, how much time do you spend working on one particular app?
The time it takes to develop an app depends on the app. The Most Useless App Ever took about a day time to produce. It was a very simple app with a button that responds with phrases. Score Card, the app that helps you keep score in card games, took a few days for the first release and a few weeks for the second release. War, not yet released, is more complicated and has taken about a month’s worth of work so far. Sheepshead, an app I’m currently working on, will take a few months.
I’ve never even heard of the game Sheepshead. I’ll have to investigate! When do you know an app is “DONE” and not just “almost there?”
An app is done when it does what it is supposed to do, and Windows certifies it to make sure it meets all of their standards. I can always update it when I have an idea for new features. For instance Score Card ’s first release was very simple; basically a grid with slots for scores and names that could add rows for more scores; but the second release does the math for you when you enter a new score.
Sounds great! What is your process like when making one?
When making an app I like to start by designing the interface, the visual aspect of the program, so that I have all of my components before adding the actual code. Then I add the actual code. When I think it is done I test it and fix bugs. Right before I submit it for certification my siblings and parents like to do a final round of testing to make sure it works to their satisfaction. I can work while it is noisy petty well. Houses with nine kids are just noisy.
I would imagine you’d be used to noise. LOL. What are your tools for the trade?
I use a Windows 8.1 laptop with Visual Studio. I also have my book I used to learn C# that I use as a reference,
Microsoft Visual C# 2013 Step by Step (Step by Step Developer)
Hmm it’s all code to me! 😉 What do you test-run the apps on?
I test on our laptop or on the simulator so I can test compatibility with smaller tablet screens. I would prefer to use a Windows 8.1 Pro laptop with a touchscreen, so I can enhance my ability to test touch controls and so that I can develop Windows Phone apps; but I don’t have the money for that yet.
Ooh, that would be nice. Prayerfully you’ll make enough money soon. Speaking of which, do you plan to sell your apps?
Right now I have only offered free apps with ads in them to make money. I have made $0.25 since March. I will sell Sheepshead for $1.49 when I release it. As my skills increase I would like to make apps that people will purchase.
I’m sure the sales will start adding up. 🙂 Are any of your siblings interested in doing this with you, or are you a lone wolf?
Nobody is interested in programming, but there is time since most of them are too young anyway. Nathan, my brother, has expressed interest in graphic design, which would be helpful if he wanted to work with me.
Yes, I’m sure you and Nathan would make a great team. Is there any out-of-pocket cost involved for you in your business?
There is a $20 fee to get a Windows developer’s license. Visual Studio Pro would normally cost $99, but since I was a student I could get it for free. http://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/downloads. You could also get Visual Studio Express for free. If/when I want to move to Apple IOS I would have to pay $99 for a developer’s license and $99 for additional software. Of course there is the cost of internet and the use of the computer and things along that line that my parents cover.
Great about the student discount, but wow! Sounds like things can get pricey. Do you plan on sticking with apps, or do you plan to make other things as well?
My plan is to focus on software development. I may work on non-windows-apps software, but it is much easier to reach customers through the Windows Store. You can make a wide variety of different types of apps for the Windows Store. I may do more graphical games in the future. I would also like to expand to Windows Phone and Apple IOS.
I understand that. Do you plan to take a few college courses on software design/programming while you’re still in High School?
I may take general education classes for college credit during high school. I will definitely take programming classes when I go to college. I have learned a lot through experimentation and the Microsoft Developer Center.
Looks like a great plan to me! What do you think the next step for your business will be?
I’m working on fixing a few problems with War, the card game. My main future goal is to release the first Sheapshead app for Windows. I would also like to expand to Windows Phone and Apple IOS.
Sounds good. Is there anything you’d like to tell other kids who might want to start a business at home?
Ask. You need to find out what you need to do before you do it. Start simple. You can always improve your products later. You have to develop your skills; you cannot start with your masterpiece. Then you have to work hard. You probably won’t make much money for a while. My only source of income is ads which, when you have one app with ads in it, do not make much money at all.
Good advice. The money will come later! Can you tell me something about you that has nothing to do with your business?
I am a huge Star Wars fan, books, movies, TV, and games. Also really like LEGOs, Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings.
Sounds like you have good taste. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
I hope your visitors will check out my contest to submit the best phrase for The Most Useless App Ever. The prize is a $5 Amazon e-gift card. Click here.
Ooh, we’ll be sure to check that out! Thanks so much for visiting with us, Thomas! We wish you continued success! God bless!
Thanks everyone for visiting with us, and don’t forget to check out Dassel Software Development!