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Teenage Programmer in East Bay Creates Internet Study-Buddy Platform for Students

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- An enterprising teenager in the East Bay is pondering how to invest his six-figure profit after selling a startup he founded during the pandemic.

Calix Huang developed an idea last fall to enhance virtual studying during the pandemic.

The self-taught coder programmed the project in one night:

"I was able to get a really simple version of it running in six to seven hours," Huang said.

The son of engineers, Huang founded Hours, a virtual studying platform that connects students anywhere in the world.

Instead of doing practice exams in isolation, Hours allows others to view and chat about a student's progress, as all study together.

"Something I've always been really passionate about it building things and building projects that people will use and impact people in a positive way," Huang said.

The free tool took off and, in six months, more than 20,000 students in more than 120 countries were using Hours.

At a time when many students were going to school virtually from home, 17-year-old Aryan Vichare of Fremont High School jumped onto Hours.

"It becomes really nice to work with others so that you feel motivated and encouraged to work with those around you," Vichare said. "It really helped me boost my productivity."

Other company CEOs took notice.

One of them was Amanda DoAmaral co-founder and CEO of Fiveable, a social-learning platform used by four million high school students.

"Completely astounding. It was like, when I was 16, I was not doing that kind of impressive work," DoAmaral said.

The former Oakland public school teacher thought the two companies could be a perfect match: combine Fiveable's content and community with the virtual space Hours provides.

"Hours is like a library. You can sit next to someone and the vibe of this room is everyone studying so I'm going to study, too," DoAmaral said.

She and Huang made a deal to buy Hours for six figures and hire Huang as a program manager overseeing a team of five.

The experience is game-changer.

Huang said, "I feel like. now, I can meet anyone and talk with anyone with a certain level of confidence with what I've done. I've been able to talk to some really cool people like Forbes 30 under 30."

The 16-year-old online homeschooler will apply to colleges this fall but it's clear that the months of producing and selling Hours has already put him years ahead in his career as an entrepreneur.

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