Meet the 12-year-old developer who learned to code in under a year using YouTube and has already launched 10 projects with thousands of users

  • Bereket Semagn is a 12-year-old developer based in Toronto who learned to code via YouTube.
  • Semagn has garnered nearly 24,000 Twitter followers and roughly 20,000 users across his 11 projects.
  • The young developer plans to eventually create a startup out of one of his ideas. 

When Bereket Semagn’s family found out that the 12-year-old developer had quietly garnered almost 24,000 Twitter followers and launched ten software projects, they were shocked.

Semagn, who will enter 8th grade this fall, had taught himself to code and started launching products within a year of picking up the hobby. 

“They’ve just been really amazed at what’s happened,” he told Insider.

The young developer’s first-ever project in January 2021 — a free, minimalist skin for code editor app Visual Studio Code dubbed Lunar Theme — quickly reached 3,000 installs. He’s since amassed roughly 20,000 users across his 11 projects which include apps that lets users browse emojis, generate design waves, and spin up memes

“What I really like about coding is that people build the languages — you just have to learn them — and then the things that you can build are endless possibilities,” he said. 

Semagn’s introduction to coding began after he finished the 6th grade and started reviewing Amazon tech products that his parents ordered – like his dad’s smartwatch – in his spare time. Semagn’s dad picked up on his enthusiasm for technology and suggested he learn to code.

So, the Toronto-based preteen started watching YouTube videos to learn HTML and CSS with the support of his 22-year-old sister. Once he learned the basics, he moved onto more advanced languages and frameworks such as JavaScript, Elixir, and Next.Js

He started building small projects which he shared on the popular site Product Hunt, including Hidden Tools, a collection of hand-curated developer tools, and  Meme Dealer — which he co-created with CopyAI cofounder Chris Lu after they connected on audio sharing app Clubhouse.

Semagn’s drive has impressed Product Hunt’s community programs manager Sarath Kuruganty, who endorsed many of the products.

“When I came across him, I knew that he’s authentic and curious,” Kuruganty said. “And he is a doer, so that separates him from the rest.”

Semagn builds and launches projects after he finishes his homework and right now he gives them all away for free. But he hopes to become an entrepreneur one day and start his own company. 

“I eventually want to make a startup out of one of my projects and really just focus on that mainly,” he said

Despite Twitter’s rules that require users to be 13 years or older, Semagn has also built a massive following on the app for his earnest tweets about learning new skills and general advice. His most popular tweet is a thread of tools he suggests startups should use, which Semagn recalls gained him a whopping 10,000 followers. 

“It was like my third thread that I’ve ever done. I didn’t expect it to do that good,” Semagn said. “But it just did.”

Semagn’s current passion project is, a social media platform for developers, which he started in February 2021 as an idea to help developers discover open source projects. It was published on GitHub in March 2021 and is still under construction.

“I was really thinking, most people aren’t actually going to be on a website to discover open source projects because usually, that’s just a one-time thing,” Semagn said. “I was realizing that Oasis has to be something more than that. So I turned it into a social platform for developers.”

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