Breanna White

While you were falling into a turkey-induced stupor on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner, Nick Walter was booting up his computer and getting to work.

The 25-year-old app developer doesn’t have time for food comas — he is days away from launching an online course to teach people how to create apps for the forthcoming Apple smartwatch.

Although the watch isn’t slated for release until next year, Apple recently released the programming tools that app developers need to know to develop the games and maps we love to download - and Walter is diving in.

He's doing it with thousands of disciples in tow and in a transparent, crowdsourced way.

Walter will learn how to use the tools, record his learning process, and sell the videos on Udemy, an online course depository that lets people put paywalls around content. He'll use the proceeds and presales from a Kickstarter campaign to fund the venture.


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He executed the same plan, for the iPhone, to wild success.

The recent Brigham Young University graduate (his degree is in what he calls the "bastard child" of computer science and business) pulled in $66,000 in one month - and he didn't have to report to an office or adhere to a dress code to do it.


"That's the thing that I absolutely love," he said, "the flexibility."

Since the launch of that course, thousands of people have taken his classes, generating several thousand dollars per month (a slow month is $3,000) for Walter in the process.

Not every guy who sticks a how-to video online succeeds. But a phone conversation with Walter makes it clear he's both a programming whiz and a people person - and it's a marketable combination.


He's not afraid to riff on pop culture - Taylor Swift comes up in his explanation of Swift, Apple’s programming language - or look a little silly.

While "it's a little bit nerve-racking" teaching a skill you've just acquired, Walter said, he's not aiming to be perfect - just first and accessible.

"I'm probably not going to be the absolute best class that is going to be super in-depth and have all the right technical words," he said. "But I am one of the first and I'm able to communicate how to do something in fairly easy terms to someone who doesn't have any programming experience."


The Kickstarter campaign for the watch videos hasn't generated the same revenue (he's raised about $13,000 out of a $20,000 goal) his iPhone campaign did, but Walter isn't worried.

The market for the watch is smaller and it hasn’t been released yet.

His main goal is to get in on the ground floor. While he's teaching the how-to course, he'll also create his own apps.


The self-described "productivity nut" likes email and podcasting apps (Yes, he's jumped on the Serial bandwagon and warns newbies "not to watch alone," a mistake he regrets making.)

Walter doesn't have a set schedule but he is disciplined. He works at his house in Provo, Utah, with an associate every morning from nine to noon on the course and then heads to a coworking space downtown to focus on personal projects (he's got how-to apps on everything from hair to cooking).

He'll take freedom over stability any day, he says.

And while it's working well now, he's not blowing his earnings (he earned $40,000 in June teaching people Swift). His only "splurge" so far? A Nintendo Wii U so he can play Mario Kart.


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Walter plans to continue teaching, but also wants to dabble in blogging and podcasting.


He's launched, a site named for one of his favorite Steve Jobs quotes ("Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you."), where he wants to encourage people to pursue their creative goals.

When I ask if he's ever considered a move to Silicon Valley, Walter paused.

"I'm Mormon," he said. "I'm hoping to get married and there are a lot more Mormon girls in Provo."


And while he isn’t encouraging everyone to give up a stable nine-to-five gig, "for me," he said, "it was totally the right decision."

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.