How A 17-Year-Old Is Using Tech To Tackle Social Problems
By Ryan Velez
The Bay Area has been a hotbed for tech, and one young phenomenon is getting in on the action before even leaving high school. George Hofstetter, a 17-year-old senior at Alameda Community Learning Center is keeping busy. At 16, he started his own tech company, and is also hosting and co-producing a project sponsored by Capital One Dev Exchange called UP to CODE vol. 1. Designed to close the digital gap, this program targets middle schoolers. Black Enterprise recently caught up to the prodigy to talk about his interests and future plans.
George says the tech bug first bit him when he was 13. “One of my best friends, Desmond, invited me to a hackathon powered by Qeyno Labs, an Oakland-based tech company. At that hackathon, we created an app to help private school students of color support one another through their experiences of racism. At the time I was attending a private school and experienced institutionalized racism. We found a way to help other students.
After that first hackathon, I wanted to really change the world’s perspective on race through technology. That year I taught myself four programming languages. That really opened my eyes to what it means to be an innovator and not just a consumer of technology. At 16, I started my own tech company, George Hofstetter Technologies Inc.”
Social issues are in the back of George’s head, including the controversial app he created that could be all too useful in today’s modern climate. “My latest app is called CopStop, the 21st century key to staying safe from police brutality. I submitted the app to the app store and it was sent back for errors in the code. Although I can and will fix it, right now I am overwhelmed with college applications and running my company.”
On top of his business, George has plenty of ambitions for his career after college. “I plan to pursue a career in computer science and psychology. I think artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity are the most fascinating subjects in computer science, so I’m extremely excited to learn more. I am now applying to college and really want to go to UCLA, so UCLA if you are reading this, I’m right here!”
Even the most skilled dynamo needs some support, and George credits his success to the “mentors who have always supported me, particularly Kalimah Priforce, headmaster and CEO of Qeyno Labs; Howard Sueing of Google; Jeff Tudor, Chief of Police in San Leandro, and many others.” In fact, George is already paying it forward, mentoring younger kids at a program called The Genius Project.