- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. (AP) - At 18, Patrick Finnegan has not graduated high school yet - he just hasn’t had the time.

He’s been too busy building websites and getting funding together to launch a startup tech firm concentrating on a web-based application that aggregates news posts tailored to each individual user.

He still wants to get that degree, but he’ll have to fit it in between trips to Portland, Oregon, and meetings with team members and potential investors.

“My goal is to make an impact,” Finnegan said. “So I wanted to focus on my entrepreneurship. I’m unable to focus on everything.”

Finnegan, who lives with his parents in Williamstown, attended Pine Cobble School in Williamstown and two private schools before deciding to work on his tech business full time. He is a partner with another young man in a web building firm, “onmsg.” The firm brought in about $20,000 in 18 months building websites for a variety of clients.

Jeff Quebec is one of those clients. He is also Finnegan’s former architectural design teacher at Eaglebrook School in Deerfield.

Quebec helps to run the Preprep Showcase, which tries to connect student hockey players through social media with prep schools that have hockey teams. They needed a website that would help in that mission, so they turned to Finnegan and his team.

“It became very clear to me early on that he understood my mission,” Quebec said. “He did a good job with it. He is certainly a young motivated individual with a bright future ahead of him.

Finnegan’s other firm is WorldState, a startup company that is trying to bring news reports to young folks in a more palatable form by aggregating the news on topics the reader finds interesting and still fits into their smartphone lifestyle.

The website describes it this way: “WorldState aims to be that role model turning disinterested 18-24 year olds into avid news-readers, and engaged, actively informed citizens taking a passionate interest and creating action in their increasingly global world.”

Finnegan believes in it, and has a laser-focus on making it work.

“A lot of people view my generation as lazy, not engaged,” he said. “I want to prove them wrong. I want my generation to be informed and to get involved in the conversation.”

Finnegan also wants to be able to earn an income, so he can “live a comfortable life.”

“It doesn’t take a genius,” he said. “It takes someone who hustles - it’s all about how hard you work.”

Finnegan recently turned to the Portland Incubator Experiment, a Portland, Oregon, business incubator and accelerator, to help get WorldState up and running.

“They give you the space, and mentors to help you get started,” he said.

Rick Turoczy, co-founder and general manager of Portland Incubator Experiment, sees a lot of potential in Finnegan and what he is working on. His main challenge, Turoczy said, will be writing the algorithm that will allow the program to aggregate the news for the individual user — something that Finnegan’s team has to do manually now.

“If he solves this problem, it will be relevant to more than just his immediate peer group,” Turoczy said

For now, WorldState is a subscription-based online newsletter. Finnegan’s goal is to morph that into a web-based application.

Finnegan’s parents remind him frequently not to forget about his education. And Quebec still wants Finnegan to get his high school degree and start working on a college education. But he understands that Finnegan is learning plenty.

“In many ways, he is working in a living classroom every day,” Quebec said.

Finnegan says he will soon enroll in an online school to get his high school degree.

As for college, Finnegan said, “I’m still thinking about it.”

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