Meet the Whiz Kids: 10 Overachievers Under 21
4. The Quiz Master
Andrew Sutherland, 18
It started with a French test. Andrew Sutherland, then a 15-year-old high school freshman in Albany, California, had to memorize 111 French terms for animals (including "winnie l'ourson," better known to us as Winnie the Pooh). Most kids would write up flash cards or badger their parents into helping them prep. Instead, Sutherland created a software program that ultimately turned into Quizlet, a Web-based tool that anyone can use to memorize vocabulary terms.
Users enter the terms they need to memorize and the correct definitions, and Quizlet does the rest--logging their correct answers and retesting them on any they miss. Since Sutherland publicly launched Quizlet in January 2007, some 130,000 users have taken more than 12 million quizzes on subjects ranging from Animal Farm to Zoroaster.
To handle the business aspects of the endeavor, Sutherland formed a company called Brainflare, with his father Howard as CFO/Secretary. But Quizlet fans may have to wait awhile before Sutherland rolls out the company's second product. The first one took 450 days to build before he unveiled it. And Sutherland, who was recently accepted to MIT, says becoming a software magnate was never one of his career goals.
"I wanted to be a firefighter, an astronaut, a zookeeper; you know, all the typical things," he says. "I never really thought out a choice to make a career out of computers. I just got more and more into it, and now here I am."