Iddris Sandu is only 21-years old, but he has quite a few major accomplishments in the field of technology. He has created his own software development firm, developed key algorithms for tech giants Instagram, Snapchat, and Uber, worked with the likes of Kanye West and Jaden Smith, and has even been recognized by former U.S. President Barack Obama!
A very early start
Born in Accra, Ghana, Iddris’ parents migrated to the United States when he was 3. He started learning how to do programming on his own at the age of 10. At age 13, he got his first working experience at Google where he worked on many programming projects.
Within his two years at Google, Iddris designed an app for his classmates to help them navigate their classrooms easily. He was just 15 years old at that time! His app, which was used by his high school in California, has earned him a meeting with then-President Obama at the White House where he received the Presidential Scholar Award.
However, Iddris decided not to go to college. His reason, besides not being able to afford it, is that he didn’t want to “wait four years; I wanted to make an impact now,” he told CNN. And that’s exactly what he did.
After first developing key algorithms for Instagram and Snapchat, Iddris was 18-years old when he started working for Uber, where he created the software called Autonomous Collision Detection Interface to detect driver’s hand motions and positions for their self-driving cars.
Tech meets hip-hop
Last year, Iddris met rapper Nipsey Hussle at a local Starbucks and they immediately turned the chance encounter into a collaboration. In just three weeks, the pair transformed an abandoned storefront in Los Angeles into The Marathon Store which sells clothing, accessories, and music. Through its companion app, referred to as the “smart store,” customers can also download exclusive music and digital content.
The store, which highlighted Iddris’ tech excellence and Nipsey’s cultural influence, has caught the attention of several celebrities and icons such as Russell Westbrook, Vegas Jones of Roc Nation, Diddy, Jay-Z, among others.
Most recently, Iddris has partnered with Kanye West and Jaden Smith to create augmented-reality experiences involving music, clothing lines, disaster relief projects, and others for the tech festival ComplexCon next year in Chicago.
Going back to his roots
Definitely, a bright future awaits Iddris and he wants to share it to others as well. Next year, he is set to visit Lagos, Nigeria to host student workshops where he wants to teach African kids to build platforms as he himself believes in the Black excellence.
“The next tech leaders are going to come from Africa. Why? Because they are exposed to problems which they have the solutions to,” he said.