Chris Janowski is the 27-year-old cofounder of app design company Hyperapptive. He and his partner, Craig Simms, are making “social networking and productivity apps”. Janowski says he loves working in this genre of apps because it is unique and relatively unexplored. Currently, he and Simms are working on WakeMe, Hyperapptive’s first released app. Janowski says Wake Me is a “social video alarm clock app” that combines an alarm with video messaging. The idea is that when you create an alarm on the app, you enter not only the time you want to wake up, but also the reason for it and what kind of messages you would like. All your friends on the app then receive a notification about your alarm, and can record videos that will play for you in the morning when your alarm goes off. Janowski says, “we really wanted to create a positive experience in the morning” and “get people excited to wake up because they don’t know what videos they’re going to get.”
Janowski and Simms are working on this project through InventiveLabs, a company that Janowski says helped him turn his ideas into feasible business opportunities; something that school was just not doing for him. He says, “I have dyslexia, and school was never working out for me. I never felt like I was getting what I needed.” This was difficult for him, especially in his early years of school, and his “earliest memory of dyslexia itself was in second grade, and [the class was] given the book The Titanic.” He was excited to read it, until he found there were no pictures. It was the first book like this that he had ever encountered, and he did not understand why everyone else in the class could read it but he couldn’t. This was when he realized that he had always been using pictures to interpret books, while his peers were reading the words.
Since then, Janowski says both his mother and technology helped him get through school, and prepare him for life outside of the classroom. In hindsight, he believes dyslexia gave him “a more creative imagination than most people…[he is] able to visualize what an idea could look like and what changes could be happening without even holding anything”, and that his “problem-solving for ideas is significantly better.” Although Janowski believes dyslexia will always affect him, he says it is “significantly easier to deal with” now.
To younger generations with Learning Differences, Janowski says the most important thing is to let your voice be heard. “Advocate for yourself, and make sure [what the school is doing] works for you…if something isn’t working for you, even in the classroom, you have to speak up. That is extremely important.”
To learn more about the WakeMe app, you can visit the website here.