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Wilsonville grad finds high-tech success

Rick Walter created one of the first classes for Swift, Apple's new programming language


Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Rick Walter says he hopes to create more classes like the one he put together for Apples new Swift programing language.Many times, success strikes when you least expect.

For Rick Walter, that moment came last month, when a simple online video tutorial he created suddenly went viral thanks to a simple promotion. The resulting windfall, both financial and professional, has helped put the 2007 Wilsonville High School graduate on the path to an independent career and the future he was hoping for.

Walter created a simple, to-the-point video on how to use Apple’s brand new programming language, Swift, and posted the how-to for sale on Udemy, an international website offering instruction and courses in a huge array of fields. That was in June, just days after Apple unveiled Swift, its first new language for programmers and developers in roughly 15 years.

A week after his class went live on Udemy, the site threw its weight behind Walter’s creation with a series of promotions.

“Someone from Udemy called and said it was cool and that they were promoting it,” Walter recounted. “They put it on sale and emailed to 150,000 people.”

The effect, he said, was “instantaneous.”

“I didn’t know for sure,” he said. “I was eating cereal in the kitchen and my phone kept buzzing with messages ‘so and so signed up for your class,’ ‘so and so signed up for your class.’”

In less than a month, according to Udemy, he grossed over $45,000 from sales of his course to budding Swift programmers.

“That promotion was a huge spike,” Walter said. “And there are still leftover trails from that, even though it’s definitely not as hot as it was that first week.”

Rachel Byrd, a marketing expert with Udemy, said the site uses a sophisticated blend of analytics along with simple student requests to connect courses like Walter’s with those who are interested.

“The success of Rick’s course was the power of the marketplace at work,” she said. “It was a combination of an in-demand topic, Swift, plus a highly targeted audience selected based on course browsing, wishlisting and purchasing behavior.”

In this case, Byrd added, the sudden appearance of Apple’s new programming language provided the spark, while Walter proved to be ahead of the curve when it came to early mastery. The combination played out on Udemy, she said.

“We got it to the right students at the right time,” she said.

First Apple language in 15 years

An avid programmer and recent graduate of Brigham Young University, where he majored in information systems, Walter was intrigued enough to immerse himself nonstop for four days in Swift.

His first impression: It’s much easier to use than the language it replaces, Objective C. His next impression? He should be the first to achieve mastery.

“Apple, they are a very secretive company, they don’t announce anything until it’s ready,” Walter said. “Previous to this language they were using Objective C, so on the day of this conference, at the beginning they announced, ‘Hey we’ve made a new programming language.’ It was a huge shock to the whole Apple community; it was a really big announcement.”

Because of a fortuitous combination of circumstances, Walter immediately knew what he wanted to do.

“A couple of weeks before a friend had told me about Udemy,” he said.

“And a week before that I had read a book called ‘The Four Hour Work Week,’ and it’s about how you should sell information because it sells so well.”

Coincidentally, Walter also had two weeks of free time open up following his graduation from BYU. So he dove headfirst into Apple’s new 500-page user manual for Swift.

“My whole class is a video walk-through and explanation of what is in the book,” he said.

Swift was introduced to the public on Monday, June 2. By Thursday, June 5, Walter had completed his course.

“It was four days of no sleep, all videos and no eating,” he said with a laugh. “It was just kind of the dream that I could be the first to market with this.”

He was, and it proved to be a huge payoff for his interest in programming, which started three years ago when he began working with mobile apps for Apple’s iPhone.

“I remember stories from the first developers,” he said. “People would make a game or app and get millions of downloads. But the whole thing was there weren’t really very many developers. They had these awesome numbers and explosiveness because they were first. So I viewed this as my chance to be out there and not miss the same train again.”

Walter is now working on additional classes, as well as a new app called Later, which is designed to send out pre-timed text, photo and video messages. He said he’s finished with school at this point, and he hopes the Swift video is the start of a long and fruitful career.

“I think the plan is just to create more classes and keep working on some of the startups I’m involved in,” he said. “I hope I never have to work for anybody again.”

To check out Walter's class on Udemy, visit this link: www.udemy.com/swift-learn-apples-new-programming-language-by-examples/.


By Josh Kulla
Assistant Editor / Photographer
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