Ridgefield teen designs social media app

Ridgefielder Max Beaumont displays his new social media app “Casso” on his iPhone. The rising sophomore at Green Farms Academy estimates the app, which preserves users’ anonymity as they communicate and exchange with other users, to be worth more than $100,000. —Steve Coulter photo

Ridgefielder Max Beaumont displays his new social media app “Casso” on his iPhone. The rising sophomore at Green Farms Academy estimates the app, which preserves users’ anonymity as they communicate and exchange with other users, to be worth more than $100,000. —Steve Coulter photo

Max Beaumont may be the most accomplished high school sophomore in the entire state, if not the next Mark Zuckerberg.

The 16-year-old mobile and website developer has had a bevy of career highlights: making his first $1,000 at the age of 10; founding a website that averaged 100,000 hits a month; and, creating a game that would reach the top 5 of the iTunes app store.

Now, Mr. Beaumont, who founded his own company Beaumont Studios in January, is setting out on his most ambitious project to date — a free social messaging app called Casso that preserves users’ anonymity as they communicate and exchange with other users.

“There’s so many websites, like Facebook and Twitter, that are all about getting your personal information out there and getting your online presence known,” he said. “I think it’s important to be anonymous online and have freedom that’s not attached to your personal information.”

The app has taken six months to design and complete — three months more than Mr. Beaumont expected, but he is ready to launch its iPhone prototype. The goal is to have the app also available on iPads and Android phones.

Mr. Beaumont, who recently finished his freshman year at Green Farms Academy, is searching for investors this summer to fund $75,000 for patenting and marketing the app, although he does not intend to sell it anytime soon.

He put in about $20,000 of his own capital into developing Casso.

“We have received a lot of interest and the app is currently evaluated at $100,000,” he said. “I need more funding right now — I am looking for someone to come in with that before entering the next phase…

“The app store has changed since when I first got involved — you have to intensely market your app for it to get known.”

In his search for investors, Mr. Beaumont has talked with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about possibily investing.

He hasn’t revealed his age to investors or co-workers until now.

“I don’t normally work with people around my age and I don’t reveal my age to people I work with,” he said. “At this point, I think I’m ready. ”

Mr. Beaumont describes the app as a hybrid of Facebook and SnapChat.

“SnapChat is limited to 10 seconds and then the photo is gone,” he explains. “With Casso, you get a whole news feed, like Facebook, that can show up, then at the maximum 24 hours it gets deleted.”

He added that users can choose what types of messages to ignore or respond to.  User may connect with users around the world.

While the app’s features include filtering videos, pictures and music recordings, Mr. Beaumont stresses that the privacy element is what sets it apart from other apps on the market such as Vine and Instagram.

“That’s where the money is today — where identity is protected yet you’re still able to instantly communicate,” he said. “Privacy has become a big concern in mobile development.

“With Casso, you could make your user name whatever you want and it would be untraceable to parents, schools, or anybody else.”

Mr. Beaumont’s interest in mobile and website development spawned from boredom and a desire to have an unconventional summer job.

Instead of watching TV and playing video games at his family’s summer house, Mr. Beaumont founded a video sharing website called TubeFreeNow.com when he was only 10 years old.

“I wanted to make some money but didn’t want to do a traditional summer job,” he said. “Making websites was the best thing to do during that time.”

He expanded the site into “an all-around media site” that included video games and other features.

The site averaged 100,000 hits a month before he sold it for $2,000 in September 2007.

A year later, he founded a penny auction site called SnapBidder that allowed  users to bid on an items at a discounted price.

“The trick was that each bid cost the user $5 and each time the timer went down and a new bid came in, the timer would reset and the bidding would keep going,” Mr. Beaumont explained. “Eventually, the bids would end and I would ship the product at a discounted rate to them, but I was making $2,000 for a $500 iPad.”

His interest in mobile development was sparked when he was 12.

Mr. Beaumont has created 20 free apps over the past four years, including his first app, Candy Bear, which yielded him $2,000 in 2009.

“I cranked them out every two to three weeks or so, while I was in school,” he confesses. “Each has sold anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000.”

He’s completely self taught.

“I’ve done a lot of research online and the process has really been trial and error,” he explains. “Each app I created, I learned about the process.”

His most popular app was Project Boom, an 80-level game that builds on itself, which he created in 2012.

The game, marketed by Ventora Studio, received a four-and-a-half star rating out of five from over 100 reviewers. and peaked at No. 4 most downloaded apps in the iTunes app store.

“The idea behind Project Boom was to make it free and have as many people download it as possible,” he said.

The game had 50,000 downloads before it was sold and won Game of the Month award on GameSell.com in August 2012.

“I don’t think anybody, including Max, would have thought this is where he would be today when he first got started,” said Perry Beaumont, his father. “I’m amazed — when I was a kid my parents were happy if I got a paper route or something.”

As for Casso, he funded production through a website he purchased in October called GSHelper.com. He flipped it for three times its worth and sold it in January.

“Each project I’ve done has funded the next project,” he said.

The idea behind Casso came to Mr. Beaumont  in January when he was bouncing off different social media concepts with a friend.

“We were trying to come up with a new twist for a social network,” he explained. “We liked SnapChat a lot, liked Facebook a lot, but they each have distinct flaws.”

Midway through the app’s production process, Mr. Beaumont bought out his friend for $5,000 and took 100% ownership of the app.

He thinks it may be worth anywhere from $100,000 to one billion dollars.

“Eventually, my goal is to turn it into Vine or SnapChat, where it can be valued to be a lot of money, then sell it to a bigger company that is looking to acquire a massive user base,” he said. “The idea is not to keep it forever but to bring it to a point where it’s at its maximum potential. It could be as successful as anything out there.”

For now, Mr. Beaumont continues to work with a 15 person team before launching the prototype.

“My goal is to get it to a point where I don’t have to be a part of the day to day operations,” he said.

He’s never met anybody on his team and he communicates with them primarily through Skype’s instant message service.

His parents recognize his ability to communicate with all sorts of different people and believe it’s a skill that will help him later in life.

“He can figure out what different people want and how they want it to be done,” his father said. “It’s a great skill he’s picked up.”

So, what does a 16-year-old with a potential billion dollar company do in his free time?

Mr. Beaumont is an award-winning horseback rider, who has competed in 22 shows around the world.

In addition, he’s a popular electronic house music creator with a song called “Fun With Me” that has received 1.5 million views on YouTube since being uploaded in October 2012.

“I’ve been doing horse riding since I was 5 or 6 and I’ve had a lot of success,” he said. “I really like to stay busy so when I’m not working on a business, I like to pick up new things — producing music is a side project that I got into after Project Boom was released.”

Mr. Beaumont also gives back through charity work in Guatamala and donates apps to a charity  organization called JustWorld that he’s a part of through horse riding.

“What makes me most proud is that he is giving back on his own,” his father said.

While many of his peers know him for the riding and the music creating; few know Mr. Beaumont’s true identity.

“I don’t really tell that many people at school,” he explains. “I don’t want to be separated from the crowd.”

Running a company and going to school is challenging.

“Making time for both is definitely not easy,” he admits.

He wakes up at 6:30 for school and works in-between classes when he have free periods. He works on his business for two hours right after school, then eats and does his homework. Then, he goes back to work late at night.

“It’s not like I dislike doing it, I consider it free time,” he said. “The second it becomes something I don’t enjoy, I’ll quit.”

However, he shows no signs of quitting — already he is looking to future endeavors in the clothing industry.

“The advantage of doing all this while I’m still young is I can take major risks without worrying about where I’m going to live,” he said. “In my 20s and 30s, it’ll be harder to take such a big risk.

“My goal before college is to have an idea every type of business that is out there, pursue as much as I can before I have to support myself.”

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