July 11th, 2012
Don’t let Cameron Cohen’s age fool you. At 14, he’s already started his own programming and development business, and arguably more impressively, discovered the importance of true, selfless philanthropy. Here’s his story…
At 11 years old, I was diagnosed with a leg tumor and needed to have surgery. Luckily, the tumor was benign, but I still experienced a long recovery: a 10-day hospital stay, followed by a month in a full-leg cast and wheelchair, and seven months with a brace and crutches. I found myself with new free time and was looking for a distraction. I decided to teach myself how to program iPhone apps.
I’ve always liked technology, but it didn’t consume me. I was interested in more common 11-year-old things, like sports. I had never taken classes on iPhone app development; most of what I ended up learning was through Google-ing and watching videos from Stanford professors.
The December after my surgery, I created my first application, a drawing app called iSketch. I never expected iSketch to generate much money, but I hoped the story might attract some publicity for the hospital. Much to my surprise, iSketch became a big success, and I was able to donate $20,000 towards electronics purchases such as MacBooks, iPads, iPod Touches, iPod Nanos, and iTunes gift cards, for other children at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. There were many children who might not have had access to fun technology that could keep them distracted from the medical challenges they were facing. I know first-hand how lousy it can be in a hospital! I know playing with these new devices is improving their hospital stays.
Last year (at 13), I released my second iPhone app, a word game called AnimalGrams, and pledged to donate to research that helps kids with bone cancer, the disease I could have developed had my tumor not been benign.
My parents raised me to understand the importance of giving back, but on the business side, I didn’t even know what the word “entrepreneur” meant. In the time since this all began, I have started my own business (which my dad helped me register), called CCC Development (short for Cameron Chase Cohen Development).
When I tell my story, most people are surprised; they don’t really think I’m 14 at first. That’s usually part of my punch line at the end, but I think people are also really happy that kids can see such a necessity to give back, and I am glad I do!