Choose which aspects of my personality you want to learn more about
How much detail you want to see
Along the Algarve and Westcost of Portugal in a Campervan
First time to Africa to the beautiful town of Capetown
"Holygrail" Webapp by writing isomorphic React/Flux backed by Rails. Read the write-up here.
Going home for Tet
I loved Apture so much, that I decided to reincarnate it as Erutpa
Consulting for Wellframe, who builds intelligent systems to re-engineer care delivery and advance care management.
Spontanous Getaway on a $168 Roundtrip fare. I wrote about my experience at The Most Spontaneous Thing I Have Done So Far.
My contribution for our International Human Rights Class Project: A report on human rights in Madagascar. With TimeMachine flow effect and richly-tagged Maps. Check out here.
Spring Break. 'Nuff Said.
Got annoyed enough that IFTTT still does not offer a Webhook trigger to make my own at github.com/nambrot/xmlrpc_controller
Tiny gem to allow find_each with custom ordering. Read about it here.
Went home on a fuel-dumped ticket with a detour through the Swiss Alpes
#HackTech in beautiful Los Angeles, built pinterest_heatmap, a heatmap of travel pins in Pinterest
Roadtrip with the bros with stops in Vermont, Atlantic City, Charlottesville, Savannah, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Sylvania
A repost of my final paper for my "Intro to Ethics" on the strength of paternalistic arguments
Quick stint to the arch for an engineering camp
Gave a short Ruby on Rails tutorial at BU. Read more here.
How. meta. is. this. Read. here.
Family Trip into the German Mountains of the Harz
Busy, lively and charming capital. Horrible traffic.
The Alpes of Indochina
Luxurious Beach Paradise
Family Heritage in and around Hanoi.
Little Western metropolis right inside Asia
3-week tour with stops at the Boston Marathon, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Palma de Mallorca, Milan and Venice.
Roadtrip with Danielle and Wilken from San Antonio, TX to Las Vegas, NV. This time around I was 21 and made $500 at the poker tables in the Bellagio. At the shooting range in Alburquerque.
Attended the world's largest tech and music festival. Sponsored by the Berlin Senate and hung with the InteractATX Crew
Ice-cold tour through Prague, Vienna and Budapest
Co-Founded my first company with Connor, my roommate from college. Rollercoaster would be an understatement.
Credport is a trust platform for P2P marketplaces. It allows the portability of trust metrics such as reviews and social connections that are especially important for the Sharing Economy. Everything started with Connor's and mine passion for efficiency. We saw great potential in the model pioneered by Airbnb, but thought that the way we deal with trusting stangers online could be improved upon.
Under the supervision of entrepreneurially-spirited Professor Byers at BU, I started to create the first prototype. Soon after, we were admitted to Summer@Highland, an incredibly great and generous program for young entrepreneurs. Towards the end of the summer, we decided that we couldn't simply return to BU, which is why we applied to Startupbootcamp Berlin, got in and moved in with my parents.
You can read Credport's post-mortem at The Tale of Credport.
TechStars Seattle Interviews (unfortunately not 21 at the time)
City Trip with the family to the ancient city of Rome
Final project for me machine learning class in which I attempt to predict the quarterback's decision to run or pass on the play. Read about it here.
First time with Backbone and Node. First Github Project. Here you go.
Interned at the semantic-web, contextual search company Apture (acquired by Google in 2011). My first real job.
I have met Tristan at the Thiel Fellow event earlier the year and was immediately Tristan's passion and product sense. I told myself I had to work for him, no matter the outcome of the Thiel Fellow decision, and so I did.
The beginning of my internship was quite scary, as I had no accomodation planned and it was the first time I had to dive into someone else's extensive code base. All while using a language and framework I never used before (Python/Django). Over time however, I get to appreciate all the things that make Silicon Valley one of the greatest places to work and live.
Apture's product was (unfortunately discontinued) one of the greatest products of all time in my opinion. When you were reading something on the Internet, but didn't know what X or Y meant, you could simply highlight the term and Apture would give you a little popup with relevant information such as the entity's Wikipedia article, a Google Map, Youtube Videos, etc. It helped me tremendously as a non-native English speaker as well as fuel my curiosity. Before (and after :( ) Apture, I open up way too many Wikipedia articles in new tabs.
Among other things, I have sped up their local queries trenemendously and improved upon the UX of the map. Since users would generally look up locations of things they didn't know, a simple static map would often not be the best option. Instead, depending on the entity, we'd show a auto-zooming map to give context.
Was a finalist for the controversial Thiel Fellowship, a $100,000 grant for people under 20 to forgo higher education.
After randomly applying to the Thiel Fellowship last minute, I surprisingly reached the final round that included meeting the man himself, but especially the ultimate fellows. While I eventually did not receive the fellowship, I made valuable connections and the fundamental insight, that anything is possible. In many ways, the Thiel Fellowship paved the way for my current career path.
Spring Break 2011
Attended college in the great city of Boston while pursuing a B.A in Computer Science.
Admitted into the inaugural class of the Kilachand Honors College and awarded the full-tuition Trustee Scholarship. Pursued a B.A. in Computer Science.
I still count Boston University as one of the best things that could have happened to me. I grew tremendously as a person by immersing myself into American culture and getting to know people from all walks of life. It was also Boston that introduced my to Startups and Technology on a more professional scale.
My Education has been deliberately more breath- than depth-focused. In my first two years in the Honors College, I had the fortunate of immersing myself into various disciplines. Espeically after my leave of absence, I have continued to gain the most of my education by broadening my horizon and taking classes in psycholopgy, philosophy, economics, international relations and visual arts.
While I'm certainly not the biggest fan of the very theory/acedemia-oriented CS curriculum at BU, I did had my fair share of interesting courses, Machine Learning being my favorite.
Attended the science-oriented high school and graduated with the Abitur with a GPA of 1.3
Attended the selective science-oriented high school in Berlin, cumulating in the Abitur, the German high education entrance certificate with a GPA of 1.3 (1.0 being best)
I have loved my high school that allowed my to explore my academic interests among high-achieving peers. I have been class and school president and placed at the top of local and regional science olympiads.
Only thing to complain about my high school is the quite devasting gender ratio of 1:5.
Getting semi-serious with my photography hobby
As for many people, photography has been a close hobby of mine, not only for documentary, but artistic purposes as well. While this has been mostly a private endavour, I have peeked into the professional aspects of photography as well.
For me, it started with Nightlife photography at Virtualnights. While it is, in many ways, a great job for nightlife-loving 18-year-old in me, it also is a really crappy one because of the hours. On the positive side, I did not had to worry about not having enough willing subjects.
I later tried to get a foot in the door with Fashion Photography, and while I can put the Berlin and Boston Fashion Week onto my portfolio, I had to stop my venturing into professional photography because of time constraints. From this time, I especially appreciated my first exposure to a world unknown to me while covering exclusive locations and crowds.
Our first try at a short with my new camera yielded us a lucky second price in a competitiion on Youtube
After I got my first dslr, I was pumped to try out the video function. Back then, it was the first time you could possibly pull some nice video footage with amazing depth of field with a budget. The German parliament had a contest on YouTube for some creative entries to motivate especially the young population to vote. We took the opportunity and wanted to point out how mechanic many of us live their lives. It's time to break free and make your own decisions! We ultimately placed second and won a behind-the-secnes trip to the German parliament.
A quick writing stunt at tech-blog Neuerdings.com
After seeing a job opening at my then favorite gadget blog neuerdings.com, I decided to apply and see how it's like. At first, tt was pretty cool knowing that thousands of people would read your posts every day. However, the work itself was pretty dull. It most involved reading other blogs or press releases and create one generic post after the other.
First money-making side-project
After the "success" of Maps Offline, I quickly realized the fun and reward of just building things that happen to solve a problem. Since I was always fascinated by alternative Input/Output methods to back then Mouse/Keyboard, I wanted to take advantage of the great sensors and technology the iPhone provided.
This was also my first real side-project which involved me learning all the goodies of "real" programming. It took me a week to just understand Apple's "Hello World program". Eventually however, I managed to create something usable.
Nam's Remote was heavily inspired by the Wii console and started with the idea that you should be able to use your iPhone as a steering wheel for PC games, much like YC-backed Flypad 4 years later. Furthermore, it included templates to remotely control media players, act like a touchpad/keyboard and many more.
In hindsight, just like Maps Offline, I'm quite amazed how I have improvised and things worked out. I had no clue of memory allocation (nor ARC back in the days) and I had my brother do the basic design (as well as speak English in the videos). To control the host, I used the Java Robot API by sending RPC-like messages such as "|mousedown|300|200|" over a UDP connection. It was a lot of google, copy-paste and trial and error until it worked. And I am proud of it.
Not only was I among the first 10,000 apps in the AppStore, Nam's Remote was my largest commercial success so far. Seeing the revenue figures right after school was out was quite exciting.
My first public side project ever.
I don't even know whether Maps Offline deserves the connotation of side-project as it never exceeded 300 lines of code. And those lines are probably the ugliest mankind has ever seen.
All started with my desire for the iPhone. It came out earlier in the year and I just needed to have it. It was just too damn expensive. Next best thing: the iPod Touch. Problem: No Internet on the go in the wifi-wasteland that is Germany. Back then, my internal navigation system wasn't quite upto modern standards. So I wanted maps offline.
Like all good product stories, I was looking for a solution, couldn't find one, so I decided to try to build me own. Which is easier said than done without prior programming knowledge. Or official API's in the pre AppStore-days. In the end, I managed to scramble something together and lo and behold, people actually liked what I was doing. Seeing five-digit download numbers for something like Maps Offline still baffles me.
To date, I trace all of my major life events back to this moment. To get a glimpse at the great quality of Maps Offline, watch the following Video:
Support that I will be eternally grateful for
The START-Scholarship is a Germany-wide scholarship for motivated immigrant students with a financial need. It had a great impact on me and my view on a multicultural society. I was actually rejected the first time around.
It was the first time I was exposed to different cultures apart from the German majority and Vietnamese subculture. Not until did the program support me financially, but also organized educational trips and seminars in various topics. It was especially the financial support that allowed me do live and learn more independently and broadly. Amonst other things, it helped to purchase the Macbook crucial for the development of Nam's Remote as well as my camera.