How I did it: Christopher Bolton (via Business in Vancouver)

Which wine to serve? There’s an app for that – and a 15-year-old created it

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 


Business in Vancouver’s “How I Did It” feature asks business leaders to explain in their own words how they achieved a business goal in the face of significant entrepreneurial challenges. In this week’s issue, 15-year-old Windsor secondary school student Christopher Bolton talks about how Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) and BlackBerry (TSX:BB) app development evangelists encouraged him to start making apps for smartphones that he couldn’t even afford to own. Bolton created Which Wine, an app for Windows and BlackBerry phones that helps people decide which wine goes best with certain dishes, and is now developing a multiple-platform calendar app for his school.

“It was maybe three years ago when I first heard about coding. My friends were all jail-breaking their iPods. I went online and I found out web design is probably the easiest thing to get into because all you need is a browser and notepad.

“I found online tutorials on YouTube. I started doing it, and I thought this is really cool. Really when I got into app development was when Microsoft had this competition called the Developer Movement. It rewarded you on how many apps you built.

“I joined the competition late. It was running for about six months and I joined at the last month. I had to learn their proprietary system – C# – which is a pretty hard language. I built the Which Wine app in a month.

“My parents were going to a dinner party. They don’t drink a lot of wine, and they were saying, ‘Man, if only we had a way to pick a wine based on the kind of food people are serving.’ I said, ‘I could build an app for that.’

“In the summer, mentioned that a [BlackBerry] jam was coming to Vancouver. It was free, and you could apply for these [BlackBerry Z10] prototype devices. You had to show you had previously done applications. I submitted my Windows phone app to them, and I qualified to get a preproduction BlackBerry 10 device, and then you would build an app for BlackBerry before January 30, which was the launch [of the Z10], and you would receive a limited edition device.

“So this all came about, not because I was actively seeking to build BlackBerry apps, but because BlackBerry was willing to come to developers. It’s the same with Microsoft, where they have a new phone operating system and they don’t have the market share that these other groups [do], like iOS and Android, so they have to make an effort to come to developers.

“Which Wine was a project just to get into app making. With my school app, it’s another giant step up. My school came to me around November with the idea of building a calendar app. A couple of other high schools were building similar applications. They heard about what I did with Microsoft and what I did with BlackBerry.

“I’m going to go to university, probably looking at a computer science degree. A lot of people have told me, you need the degree to get the interview, but it’s your portfolio that will get you the job, which is why I’m doing this application for my school, because that’s going to look nice on my portfolio.” •


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