The teen whiz who plans to rule – one computer at a time
YEAR 12 student Taj Pabari really should be concentrating on excelling in his final-year exams.
However, the 16-year-old technology genius has bigger things on his mind - such as putting one million electronic tablets into the hands of one million under-privileged children across the globe.
The Brisbane teenager impressed 300 Queensland education professionals this week when he delivered an address about his dreams and ambitions to Griffith University's Digital Technologies Summit.
Taking time out to chat to ARM Newsdesk, the enthusiastic young entrepreneur revealed the defining moment that put him on a trajectory to out-rank Apple icon Steve Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
"I was suspended in primary school - I was on the verge of being expelled in Grade 4," Taj said.
"I was doing a lot of things like painting on walls, humming in assembly, just a lot of really stupid things," he said.
"But then I got a computer and I was really inspired by (Facebook founder) Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
"These people were probably just like me when I was younger and they went on to change the world."
At 11, Taj started putting his dreams into action by setting up a technology website "for kids, by kids".
"It was super-informal and we were bringing in about $10 a day," he said.
"About 100,000 kids were accessing it within the first couple of months. That was my first taste of the world of entrepreneurship."
A couple of years later, the Logan teenager founded Fiftysix.
The business sells low-cost "build your own" tablets designed to have children and young people trying computer design and programming.
Each tablet kit contains a motherboard, a battery, a camera, a microphone and cables.
Once they've assembled the tablet, the tablet's owner can learn the intricacies of coding using specially designed software that's extremely fun to use.
Sets of "flash cards" are also available to teach children what each tablet component does and how everything links together to bring the device to life.
"I loved Lego as a kid and I loved information and communications technology so I put it together and created the Lego for the 21st century," Taj said.
"The world is changing, technology is becoming more integrated into everything we do," he said.
"What we want to do is create a generation of children who are not only consuming technology, we want them to be creating it as well."
Juggling Year 12 and a thriving business means Taj starts his days at 4am and ends them very late, but the hard work is paying off.
He said the company's value was climbing - he will not reveal its net worth until he turns 18 - and now employed 17 people across the globe.
"We've got our world domination stuff which is a lot of fun, but we've also got the not-for-profit angle and that is what I wanted to do with this company - it's all about giving back to the community," Taj said.
"We go into rural communities here in Australia and in Nepal and South Africa to get one million tablets into the hands of one million children by 2020," he said.
"That's our short-term legacy. So far we've worked with about 10,000 kids."
- ARM NEWSDESK