App-titude for Success

App-titude for Success
Lyman Starmer

Most kids going into their senior year of high school spend their time sending off college applications, counting down the days until graduation, and enjoying the last bit of leisure time with hometown friends before they go off into the adult world. Within a few years and degrees later, they can expect to start getting their foot in the door and begin their careers.

Lyman Starmer, however, sets himself apart from his contemporaries and the traditional high school experience. The incoming Wolfson High School senior has dedicated the last year of his life to jetsetting across the country to attend investor meetings, network, and promote his business: Perspective, a political-discussion based mobile app. 

The app’s release is both timely and opportunistic: in the past decade, social media has often spurred heated political arguments and can brew a divisive tone among friends and family members. Perspective aims to bridge the gap by allowing other users to engage with each other across the political spectrum through a questionnaire-based algorithm the user fills out before joining. “The objective is to give a range of ideas and room to grow,” Starmer explained, “We believe true growth is finding consensus points with people you normally wouldn’t agree with.” As media and social sites continually grow more convoluted, it appears that an app like Perspective will soon become a necessity. So how did the promising Avondale-based tech developer come up with an app he projects to have millions of users by 2023? 

“I remember it, actually. I was sitting on my porch, it was Election Day this past year,” he said. “My father had already gotten off social media (due to the politics) and I left, too. As people got off of it, I was inspired to start this.” Around this time, Starmer had recently transferred from Episcopal School to Wolfson as a standout basketball recruit. Once he began to shift his focus to developing Perspective, he found had to choose between two very different routes. As his passion for the app and its traction grew, he sat down with his coach and decided to drop off the team. However, Starmer has no regrets. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset.”  It’s become quite apparent that he’s on to something, as several national firms are reaching out to get in touch with the young developer to learn more about the app, and in turn, what it might learn about them as well.

Joining Perspective starts with giving the new user a 15-minute survey asking about their views on hot-button topics ranging from abortion to gun rights and so on. This data is used to introduce the user to certain stances they agree with while also exposing them to counterpoints and other users that they may not see eye-to-eye with. To keep content and conversations fresh, the app continually will refresh questions for the user while they’re still new to the platform. “In the beginning, every week, the app will ask you 2 questions as it analyzes your responses. Based on those answers, your ‘perspective’ changes slightly.” Perspective also follows somewhat of a bipartisan metric- or a way to gauge a site or author’s objectivity and bias. The metric will let users know a person’s content is bipartisan- but the user can also choose to not show it. “This stabilizes accountability when it comes to writing content,” said Starmer. He  hopes that the app can be distinguished from other forms of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As they are all predominantly image-sharing and short-form post sites, a user’s worth on those sites has potential to be found in vapid value. “Usually, your popularity is based on ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ (on those sites), but Perspective is based on socioeconomic discussion from the other side of the political aisle.” An aisle that continues to grow, but with Perspective’s release date looming, there may be hope for a more passive passage across it.

Starmer isn’t entirely sure about his collegiate future at the moment. He’s already been courted by several Ivy League schools, but is considering doing a gap year to put further work into his app. It’s evident he takes pride in his work and has no plans to slow down. “I want to add more developers. I have a really great founding team and advisory board.”

While Starmer prepares for the app’s invite-only beta launch on August 25th, he’s also inspiring his classmates to animate their dreams and ideas into reality, he and various students & staff at Wolfson are planning “Innovation Night,” an evening where kids pitch small business idzeas to find growth and support for them. Their ideas range across a broad plain of industries and markets. “Some people think you have to be industry-specific to make a successful company, but you don’t.”

Starmer has the potential to be minted as Gen Z’s more politically- approachable Zuckerberg- before he even dons his cap and gown- but reminds us all that innovation and collaboration can have many faces- even the ones you don’t think you’d talk to.

By Casey Craig
Resident Community News

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