Alter Everything Podcast

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Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

17 year old website creator, Avi Schiffmann sat down with host Maddie Johannsen for a chat about Avi’s viral COVID-19 website. Using web scraping, Avi has compiled data from around the world to give website visitors a comprehensive understanding of international and domestic COVID-19 cases.

Special thanks to @andyuttley for the theme music track for this episode.




Avi Schiffman - Twitter, LinkedIn,
Maddie Johannsen - @MaddieJTwitter, LinkedIn



Avi anyone can do it quote.png





MADDIE: 00:04

[music] Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. I'm Maddie Johannsen, and I'll be your host. I sat down with Avi Schiffmann, the 17-year-old high school student from Seattle, behind the viral COVID-19 tracking website, Using web scraping, Avi has compiled data from around the world to give website visitors a comprehensive understanding of international and domestic COVID-19 cases, including data on who has recovered. Let's get started.


Avi, I have to tell you, I first came across your name because of an interview that I saw that you did, and our creative director actually posted it in our team's chat, and she was like, "We have to interview him for the podcast."

AVI: 00:56

That's really cool.

MADDIE: 00:57

We were all losing our minds over it. We thought it was the coolest thing.

AVI: 01:01

Which one was it?

MADDIE: 01:02

What's that?

AVI: 01:03

Which one was it? Which interview?

MADDIE: 01:04

It was the Democracy Now!

AVI: 01:06

Oh, yeah, that one. That one was pretty fun.

MADDIE: 01:08

It was great. Yeah, you were excellent on camera, and it was--

AVI: 01:11

I was so tired, though. That was at like 3:00, 4:00 AM.

MADDIE: 01:16


AVI: 01:17

Yeah, because the time difference was really weird so I-- it was actually really cool though, because I got to go to a studio for that one, but it was like the middle of the night, so I was really tired. And I think I look really tired in the video, but it was pretty good.

MADDIE: 01:32

That's crazy. So did they have to do it so early because-- was it live, or was it-- did they have to [crosstalk] the editing and stuff.

AVI: 01:36

Yeah, it was live. It was live. I mean, they did publish it online later, but yeah. They wanted it live, and it was an interesting experience because I had to-- I was like talking to the producer and had a thing in my ear. And it was just that, there was a backdrop and stuff. It was interesting, but it was cool.

MADDIE: 01:55

Yeah, no, that's really cool. I think going to studios is always a unique experience, so. We have an audio recording studio that we use at Alteryx for the podcast in our Broomfield office. So, yeah, it's always good fun to be there. So you're in Seattle. And we see in the news that you're in a hot spot.

AVI: 02:16

Yeah. I mean, it's pretty interesting to live where it started kind of in the United States. I mean, now it's mostly in New York. But it is pretty crazy. I mean, my mom is a doctor too. So she's testing people at her clinic and stuff. But there's barely anyone testing. She is the only clinic in the city that I live in, that is testing. And it's pretty crazy. I mean, most people are kind of scared, I think. But now there is a lot of people outside, and all the schools are closed down and everything. So it is pretty weird. I mean, especially in my generation, there's never been a big world event like this. I mean, there was 9/11 a long time ago, but nobody in my generation was really old enough to remember it that well. So it is kind of a weird experience because I just never had anything like this happen. So it's interesting.

MADDIE: 03:06

Yeah, for sure, for sure. So yeah, I want to talk a little bit about your background before we get into your website. So looking at your LinkedIn and your Twitter, it seems like you're very involved-- participating in hackathons.

AVI: 03:23

I actually removed some stuff because the first interview I did a long time ago with GeekWire-- they went through my LinkedIn, and they found random stuff I had on there from when I was younger, like the Mars Society. I'm not in that anymore. That was a long time ago. But they were saying how I'm an advocate for Mars exploration-- which yeah, when I was like, 12. I don't know. That was kind of funny. But yeah, there is a lot of interesting stuff I've done. I mean, I kind of know a lot about random computer things. I mean, I know photo restoration. I know video editing. I know 3D modeling. And there's just so much random stuff, but yeah.

MADDIE: 04:02

Yeah. Well, I'm interested to know what really piques your interest? Because, I mean, you talked about this as a huge global event, but in general, what gets you really excited?

AVI: 04:14

I really like just making things in general. I mean, I think I'm pretty creative. I mean, I really just like making stuff and sharing it. And that's why it's so cool to me that this website has been shared around the entire world. There was one interview I did with The Times of Israel, and that alone has like a 150,000 shares, which is a lot of people just talking about one specific article. So I just really like making things. I mean, I don't know. Instead of using a paintbrush, I just type in random words, and out comes a coronavirus website. I just really like making stuff. Instead of using a paintbrush, I just use a computer. And I just, yeah-- I mean, I just like sharing stuff, and it's just really cool to get the emails of people that are genuinely helped by my website and stuff. So, yeah, I guess that's kind of the motivation to just do stuff.

MADDIE: 05:02

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a beautiful way to put it. I think a lot of people are trying to find ways that they can help in this crisis. And you have a very unique perspective and a unique skill set. And it's great that-- like you said, "Like a paintbrush," you're able to deliver something that helps people. So that's great.

AVI: 05:21

I can't draw a circle, but I can program a circle. I mean [laughter].

MADDIE: 05:26

For sure, for sure. Yeah, a lot of people that I work with can definitely relate to that. So I want to talk about the website. So for our listeners who don't know, would you like to just give a brief background on that?

AVI: 05:39

So I made a website a long time ago - mostly, it started in early kind of January times - that tracks the coronavirus, so you can see all the numbers that you would need to know. And then, I'm working on more things like graphs and stuff to make the data look even better. But at its core, it's an easy way to get the information that you need at a glance. And when I started that, there was no way to get that easily. So that's basically what the website is at its core. And, I mean, of course, I'm adding more features now. There's a wiki page and everything that has some more information, but yeah.

MADDIE: 06:15

Yeah. And you mentioned that you like to create things. Walk me through the idea stage of it. I saw in The New Yorker article where you mentioned that you've created sites like this in the past, but how did you put that skill set and this coronavirus-- how did you put two and two together and say, "I can solve this problem. There's a bunch of information everywhere, let me pull it all together"?

AVI: 06:38

So when I started this website, there was less than 500 cases, and then, they were all in Wuhan area of China. And it was just-- for me, it was really hard to just find the information I wanted. I mean, if I wanted the most up-to-date information, I'd have to go to Chinese government websites, that were in Chinese, or I had to read news articles. By the time I read them, they were out of date anyways because the numbers were just moving pretty fast. So I just thought it would be cool just to work on just another thing, and just make a website to just pull in everything together, and just learn some more programming skills. And I just kind of cobbled together in a couple days. The version one looks very different. I mean, the colors are all the same, but it was pretty wacky. And I just posted it online, and some people noticed it. And it just kind of grew from there, I guess.

MADDIE: 07:28

The preparation stage, then-- you mentioned that the version one looks a lot different than what it is now. So what did it look like when you were in the planning and preparation stage?

AVI: 07:40

A lot of this stuff has kind of evolved over time. So when I started, I was basically just tracking China. Then it moved to international. There's been so many things. And then as it's evolved, China is less important now, I mean, because there are so many other countries that have their own mass outbreaks. So, I mean, the website keeps changing and stuff. And it's been a constant thing. I mean, I have to do maintenance on the servers and stuff so many times. I mean, I never expected there to be this much traffic. I mean, now this site is one of the biggest traffic sites in the entire world. So it's a lot of interesting experience to learn how to manage something like this, especially as just some random kid. But I think it's a great experience because there's not many opportunities people have, especially if they're-- even like a real programmer to work on something this big. So it's a great learning experience.

MADDIE: 08:34

For sure. Yeah, definitely. And this is all run through the web scraping that you do, correct?

AVI: 08:41

Yes. So the technology behind it, it's called web scraping. And basically, let's say there's a Korean government website, and I want to get those numbers. What I'm able to do is-- let's say they have a table. I'm able to basically download that table, and then take the numbers from there, and add it to a much larger data set. And it does that every minute or two or so. And then it's saved, basically.

MADDIE: 09:05

That's so cool. Yeah, I mean, at Alteryx, we're a community of data scientists and analysts that are obsessed with those kind of stuff. So I love hearing those techniques and all the processes that go behind it. It's really cool.

AVI: 09:17

It's pretty interesting. I mean, there are lots of really cool web scraping kind of stuff you can do. I mean, some of it's pretty elaborate. But it's a really big hassle too when things change format because there's always constant maintenance that needs to be done. And especially as it's grown to a 170-something countries now, so yeah, but--

MADDIE: 09:38

Yeah, tell me about that. So you said the different formats-- so different formats from the way that countries put out their data?

AVI: 09:45

Some places I scraped, for the United States data is-- there's CNN. There's the CDC and the WHO and stuff like that. And, I mean, they all have their own little things, and CNN likes to change a lot. So it's a big hassle, but yeah.

MADDIE: 10:00

So you're saying there isn't really necessarily one source of truth for each country?

AVI: 10:04

I mean, some places-- I don't know, let's pick a random country-- Bahrain. They only have one source that I use. I mean, if they were to grow to the size of the United States in terms of cases, then I'd probably put more specific effort into places like Bahrain. But places like the United States update a lot faster than like, I don't know, some other countries, so yeah. And, of course, with the United States, there's a breakdown, so you can see the individual states as well. And I also have data on the individual counties. So I'm working on making more personalized things for each state.

MADDIE: 10:38

Interesting. And I'm curious, too, were there any hurdles that you had to consider when scraping data from official websites, like federal governments around the world or in the United States, how we have HIPAA laws. And I think that a lot of people have been concerned about if they test positive, they don't want that to be shared publicly. Have you run into any sort of issues with those kinds of concerns?

AVI: 11:03

I mean, a lot of people want more information. They want the age of the people that are dying and stuff. I don't necessarily have that information because of things like HIPAA laws. And, I mean, scraping government websites, too, is actually a lot easier than news places or other places, just because governments are all-- a lot of them have pretty similar formats. And they don't often change drastically. So it's pretty easy to track those kind of ones. But, I mean, a lot of people have very specific requests, that I'm not able to provide due to laws like HIPAA. And some countries are different. I mean, China-- there is a lot more information, for some reason-- I mean, the WHO sent a bunch of researchers to China, and they came back with a lot of information, like pre-existing conditions with a lot of the patients. But the United States, they don't necessarily have that, so yeah.

MADDIE: 11:53

Gotcha. Okay. That's interesting. That's interesting. So when certain governments have provided different variables and factors in their data, but other countries don't, do you try and make the playing field pretty level, I guess, when you start compiling?

AVI: 12:08

For individual places, I have a lot more information for some, and then I have less information for others. So right now, a lot of the numbers-- for example, there is a Serious number on my website, just like a medical condition, and not everywhere reports that. So I think-- let me check real fast. Yeah, so let's see here. South Korea doesn't report, at least not that I found, any serious condition kind of cases, but the Netherlands do. So it shows in South Korea, "Oh, zero," but the Netherlands have 993. So, I mean, not everywhere gives the same data, but hopefully as times goes on, more countries will be a lot more transparent.

MADDIE: 12:52

And so I am curious, too, about-- on Twitter, you mentioned that you have a roadmap and you kind of bulleted out some of the things that are upcoming for the website. And one of the things you put on there was-- you said, "Graphs, but they are difficult."

AVI: 13:07

They are [laughter].

MADDIE: 13:08

And I've seen some interesting-- I saw a really great video from-- let me pull it up here, from MinutePhysics on YouTube. And they were talking about logarithmic scales versus the linear scales for graphs. And I'm curious if that has anything to do with--

AVI: 13:25

What the hard part about it is less actually making like-- "Oh, this is a logarithmic kind of graph." It's more actually having historical data. I just haven't been collecting that. And other people have those, so I'm going to be using external APIs to just get that. But that's actually the reason why it's been difficult. Just because I've been focusing on so many other things and not maintaining a database. So that is actually the main reason why graphs aren't here yet. But I do plan to have logarithmic kind of buttons you can choose. I mean, the graphs are going to be pretty expansive. So that's also one of the reasons, I guess. It's hard to get the best kind of graphs. I think I'm going to have-- I hope to have graphs for individual countries and all kinds of stuff. It'll be pretty cool. But no, it's a lot of work, so yeah.

MADDIE: 14:15

Yeah, for sure, for sure. And speaking of it being a lot of work, I think in general, when we have a product like this-- let's think of your website as a product. I think that when it comes to collecting feedback, responding to requests, typically their entire team's dedicated to working on managing all the moving parts like customer relations or product management, review, implementation, all of these things as you mentioned, it is so much work. Are you doing it all by yourself?

AVI: 14:46

I have some people that will answer questions for me and things like that, but it's an interesting experience, to go through thousands of emails per day and also work on the graphic design. And also I schedule all these meetings and stuff like that. So it's interesting. I used to use a whiteboard to just write down media kind of requests and stuff like that. But now I just kind of use Google Calendar. I mean, it's like a whole-- interesting experience to learn how to do all these kinds of things, especially because everything just happens so fast. So, I mean, it's interesting to do so many different things at the same time. That's why if I were to get a job in computer programming, I would probably much rather working at a startup-- I mean, I want to make my own, of course. But if I were to get a job, I think it would be a lot more interesting to work at a startup rather than Microsoft or something, just because you get to do so many more things at once. And it's more interesting to me that I can just jump to anything. Let's say, I want to spend the entire day just reading LinkedIn messages, and I could. I don't necessarily have to spend the entire day programming. So it's very interesting that there's just so many aspects I can work on. And again, it's a great learning experience for things I want to do in the future just because-- I've worked on many different projects. And one of the main reasons why is that I want to get the skills and the knowledge of how to do things. That way, when I do think of something really big, let's say, I think of something as big as Facebook. Then I know how to make it. I know how to run something like that. So I'm very happy that this thing has become so big, just because I'm able to learn so many good experiences about big servers and all these kinds of interesting things that come into play.

MADDIE: 16:26

Yeah, yeah. That's really interesting because I don't think that everybody has it in them to be their own CEO. It sounds like you really are ready to wear all these different kinds of hats.

AVI: 16:39

I think it's a great experience because, again, I do want to be the CEO of my own company and stuff like that. And dealing with adults can be very interesting sometimes, especially when they go full-on temper tantrums. So there's been a lot of, besides just programming stuff, just social kind of experiences that are pretty weird, but they're still great learning experiences for when I do run my own companies, and just how to deal with people, so yeah.

MADDIE: 17:09

For sure. I would say honestly, it seems so basic, but even in my professional career so far, it's one of the most valuable things that I've learned is just different communication styles. Everybody communicates so differently. And just learning how to change my communication style to match theirs, or how to best be productive with whatever their style is. It's so valuable to learn. So that's great that you're getting that exposure. And I guess I'm curious, when did you really see it go viral. Was there a catalyst or any sort of marketing done for the site?

AVI: 17:45

So the site was getting a decent amount of visitors for a while, and then I did a interview with GeekWire, which was kind of a local tech kind of thing in Seattle. And then that became pretty biggish. But then it just-- it got reached out to-- The Seattle Times reached out to me the next day. And then after that was the Today Show. And then it was this and that, and it just kind of rapidly spread. And now I literally last night was on Hong Kong radio. I mean, I've done so many crazy, cool interview things like now, and a lot of those have just kind of fueled it. But I'd say the GeekWire article was kind of the catalyst from like-- I mean, if you look at the graphs, you can't even see the numbers. It's so low. Now on the graph, if you were to look at the amount of visitors I was getting before the GeekWire article-- and then it just kind of spiked up insane. I mean, it took me a month to get to my first million visitors. And it took me a week to get to the second million. And now I get 30 million a day. So it's pretty crazy.

MADDIE: 18:47

Yeah, that's amazing. And you mentioned earlier the servers that you're working with. Can you share a little bit about that?

AVI: 18:53

I use DigitalOcean to host my website. I found them to be really good. And it was a very interesting experience learning how to get them to work. To get it to work, I had to basically learn Linux. I mean, I'd never done too much stuff in the terminal, but I stayed up for almost two days straight, just learning basic Ubuntu commands and stuff like that, and adding security and stuff to the servers. So they're not just a toss it and just click one button kind of thing. I have to manually go and SSH into my server, and do all these things and stuff like that. So I learned a lot about managing that. And also, I mean, the prices have gone up considerably as the traffic has grown. At any given point, there's like, I don't know, 40,000 people just on the website. There is never a break. So it's an interesting experience for just the constant load. And I've made many things in the past, but I've never had anything have real servers. I always just hosted things on cheap serverless kind of things because they never really get many visitors. But this one gets a considerable amount of traffic, so yeah. It's cool to learn how to use things like that. I mean, I have something called PM2, which is a process manager, which lets me run many things at the same time and stuff. It's pretty cool to learn all these new tools and stuff.

MADDIE: 20:15

Yeah, no, that's amazing. And so then when I think about struggles, what has been the most difficult part from a technical perspective? Or do you think that it might've been setting up the servers?

AVI: 20:27

Web scraping is a very big hassle. I wish that when I started this, and now, there was just a good API to just use, which is just-- I don't know if many people watching this will know what that is, but just like an easy way to just get the information instead of having to manually get that. And, I mean, web scraping is a big hassle. But, I mean, there has been issues with server kind of stuff. And it's been interesting to figure out how to fix those things just because I've never-- every single time something goes down, it's something I didn't expect at all. And I have to learn how to do random things. I mean, I'd never use this Vim kind of thing in a terminal to edit config files for the web server kind of stuff. I'd never done any of that before, but you kind of learn as you go along. So it's cool.

MADDIE: 21:18

Yeah, no, that's really cool. Learning as you go along, I mean, it's the best way to learn. It's just that kind of--

AVI: 21:23

Oh, yeah, I'm working on this 24/7, so it's bad.

MADDIE: 21:27

Yeah, it sounds like it.

AVI: 21:27

I haven't had a break where I haven't thought about this website in months by now.

MADDIE: 21:33

Do you feel like you're thriving on that energy?

AVI: 21:36

For a while, I really was. I mean, I am starting to get pretty burnt out on it, but, I mean, I'm still working on it as much as I can. It's a great opportunity to work on something this big, and especially just-- I mean, you can literally search my name, and you can go on the 20th page of Google and there's articles about me from Thailand and Africa, I mean, all these kind of things. So I don't want this to be the defining-- I don't want to be known as the kid who made the coronavirus website. I want to continue making more stuff. And I think this has opened up many opportunities. For example, I made a Twitter account and within a couple days I now have 30,000 followers. So it's a great kind of following to have. That way, the next thing I make something, I don't have to start from scratch kind of guerrilla marketing it on Reddit and stuff, so. Yeah, when I started this, I was in-- there's like Discord channels and stuff like that for the coronavirus and stuff. And people would be like, "Hey, does anyone know what the latest numbers are?" And I'll be like, "Oh, I know the perfect place to look for that." And I'd link my website and things. So I did a lot of that kind of stuff when I started. But now I've kind of moved on from that, which is a great relief because the next time I make-- let's say, I don't know, I make a mobile game or something. I have people waiting for the next thing I make, so it's pretty cool.

MADDIE: 22:54

That's awesome. Yeah, you can definitely tease your next project with their following. That's great. And correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like your age is definitely an asset for you. I mean, when we heard about your website, not only were we freaking out because it was so cool, but just also we're like, "Oh my gosh, this kid's 17. This is great."

AVI: 23:11

Found that kind of crazy. I mean, also-- I mean, I've been programming for like a decade too, which-- it's pretty crazy because I'm only 17. But, I mean, the first website I made was back in second grade or something. It was a stick figure animation hub or something like that. I mean, I've just been doing this kind of stuff for a long time, and to me, it wasn't very weird that I'm 17. But, I mean, a lot of-- I mean, I think it's-- what I programmed is not very difficult. Any real web developer that's an industry professional could've done what I did. I think what's more interesting about what I did is I took the initiative to make this when nobody was really talking about the coronavirus and it hadn't really left China or anything, so. Yeah, I mean, I guess it is kind of crazy that I'm so young, but to me I don't really feel that way, but yeah.

MADDIE: 23:57

Yeah, for sure. I think that's a really important distinction that you pointed out, the timing was right. And that's really important. So has anybody ever questioned your credibility due to your age?

AVI: 24:09

Not many people. I think a lot of people would-- I know there's a website by Johns Hopkins that a lot of people know of. And I think a lot more people trust Johns Hopkins rather than my website. But, I don't know. I mean, I think that, of course, I could have programmed it to be more efficient and stuff like that. It's not the perfect website, but, I mean, I tried to just get it out as fast as possible, and I've been working on making it better and better as time goes on. But I'm no industry professional when it comes to programming and stuff like that. But I guess I've been trying as best as I can, and I get-- it has been really good. But things just move so fast. And, I mean, my website loads just instantly. There's no images to load or anything like that. Meanwhile, all these other websites have loading screens and all kinds of stuff, but, I mean, I guess I just programmed it pretty well. But I guess it's interesting to-- how just well the website works compared to others. I mean, I never expected something I made to be that fast or anything, but it's pretty cool.

MADDIE: 25:14

Well, and the way that you're evaluating these sites-- we talk a lot about data literacy. And when the world sees stats and numbers and graphs and maps and all this stuff, when they're not used to looking at data, it can be really hard to scare them into thinking something that the graph or the chart is not really saying, right? And so I guess, from your perspective, did you have to make any sort of decisions in terms of the UI, or just the way that you pulled the data, to make sure that you were really making it accessible for those who aren't really data literate?

AVI: 25:56

So one of the biggest things about my website is that it works really good on a phone. 80% of my traffic is from mobile devices. It's been a big thing that I've made it really good on a phone. So the second you just open the website up, you see the Quick Facts section, where you're able to just get the numbers you want. It's not complicated. There are no weird things you have to go through. I mean, with government websites-- one of the reasons why I started is just because it's just so hard to get the information, even if you are on those government websites. You have to just sort through so many weird government words and just so many weird-- I just want the numbers and stuff like that, and then people can do whatever they want with those numbers. But I'm just providing those things. And then a lot of people-- you know that the recovered numbers didn't even use to be there. That was an interesting story. So I got an email or a couple emails a while ago saying the site was pretty negative, just because I was just showing how many people are dying, basically. And then I thought I can make it more positive if I show how many people are recovering. So now there's all those numbers for each individual country and total recovered. So it's exciting to watch the recovered number pass 100,000 and numbers like that. So it's pretty cool.

MADDIE: 27:05

Yeah, no, that's great. Whenever we can get positivity in there, that's always a good thing, in my opinion. [music] So I do want to ask-- you mentioned in other interviews that you taught yourself to web scrape by utilizing tutorials on YouTube. And I think that this really speaks volumes about learning paths that are becoming more and more common from early-stage learners to lifelong adult learners. So given your age, has this always been the case for you throughout your whole learning path? Have you always kind of been a self-starter?

AVI: 27:43

Everything I've learned is just by watching YouTube videos or just googling questions I have. I mean, there are 200 other people who have the same question as me. I didn't go to any boot camp or college or anything like that. I'm still in high school. I haven't done anything special to learn extra programming stuff. I mean, everything I know is just-- there's just so many good resources online. I mean, there's great articles on how to do specific things. DigitalOcean, my hosting provider, they have an amazing documentation, and, I mean, it's just a lot of stuff I've just learned how to do by myself, and I hope that it inspires other people to create more stuff as well just because if some 17-year-old can just watch YouTube videos and make one of the highest-traffic sites in the world, I think, hopefully, other people will learn that they can do that too, and they can make more interesting stuff. I mean, even more than just the coronavirus, it's just-- I think it's really cool that we're able to combine technology and global health and stuff like that. I mean, back in SARS and stuff, there wasn't just an easy way to get the numbers and all. Even with Ebola, which wasn't that long ago, there just wasn't the kind of technology that there was today. I mean, when SARS-- there wasn't even smartphones back then. So I think it's pretty cool. I think this is the first big world event to utilize so much cool technology that even some 17-year-old can just make a great website that's able to track it. And I think that's pretty cool.

MADDIE: 29:07

And I think it definitely also speaks to the value behind it. I think definitely anybody can web scrape anything and put it on a website. But I think the fact that it's valuable, and it's information that people need in the world. And it's this whole collective experience that you mentioned earlier, right, how everybody's going through this. And so I think the value that you're delivering speaks to the volume of visitors that you're seeing, so that's great.

AVI: 29:34

I mean, especially just to make this just a international thing. I mean, only 50% of my traffic is from the United States. Literally every single day, I get a visitor from every single country on the planet, which is just pretty cool, yeah.

MADDIE: 29:48

That's really, really cool.

AVI: 29:49

It's just that, it's pretty neat that something I made is helping the world in so many places, so.

MADDIE: 29:54

For sure. And I bet your family and friends are so excited for you too.

AVI: 29:56

I mean, it's pretty weird. I mean, sometimes I go to Ezell's Chicken or some local chicken place in Seattle, and the cashier just recognizes me. I mean, I've had people-- I've just been in my car, and someone will just knock on my window and try and shake my hand. I mean, it's pretty weird just because it's so popular in my local community, and stuff like that.

MADDIE: 30:14

That's really nice. Well, hopefully, they're not trying to shake your hand, maybe they're just wanting to give you a little wave [laughter].

AVI: 30:18

I mean, it's pretty cool how popular it is in my local community. I mean, back when I was still in school, I used to see people across the classroom just on their laptop, looking at my website, not even knowing that I was the one that made it. So, yeah, it's pretty cool. I mean, yeah.

MADDIE: 30:32

Oh, that's really nice. That's great. So what's next for you? Do you think that you want to-- I mean, you mentioned you want to be a CEO or a part of a startup, but do you think that you're going to-- are you planning on attending college? Are you going to take a break, or? What are your thoughts?

AVI: 30:49

I want to continue making really awesome things, and I want to make even bigger things. I want to just-- I want to make some really revolutionary things. I mean, this is a pretty cool website and all, but, I mean, I want to make things how-- let's say, Napster. I mean, they completely changed the music industry. And they were sued by everyone who ever made music. I don't really care about making that much money. I just care about making really cool stuff. And I'd like to start many of my own companies and do many awesome stuff. I mean, I will go to college if I get accepted. I mean, I'm not a very good student or anything like that. But I do plan to take a gap year, too, to just that-- I do a lot of these coding competitions. They're called hackathons, and I really like going to them. I've snuck into so many of them just because I'm not old enough. And they're just great experiences because you're going to meet really cool people. You get to work on really cool stuff. And it makes you just so much more creative. You think of so many awesome ideas, that you can even just split off from that hackathon and work with that team, and actually turn it into something real. I mean, they're all over the world. I go to the ones in Seattle and stuff, but they're in Zurich, Amsterdam, Germany. They're all over the world. So I was going to take a gap year and go to as many of those as possible, so I could just continue thinking of just awesome ideas. And just, I mean, I feel like even if I went to college, I would probably just drop out and make something just because I don't really know what I would learn in college, specifically. I mean, I'd go to college to meet really interesting people and to get the networking and experience. But I'm not necessarily sure what I would go to college to learn. I mean, if I wanted a degree, I would probably get something in maybe business and computer science or some kind of engineering kind of thing. Or maybe something completely random, like, I don't know, underwater basket weaving. I mean, there's just so much stuff. But yeah, I mean, I really like hackathons just because it's a great way to meet people. And I guess that's what I would want to go to college for.

MADDIE: 32:47

That's great. Yeah, we're very familiar with hackathons at Alteryx. We always like to try and do one at our big user conferences that we have. Yeah, we did one a few years ago in partnership with some government departments for the opioid crisis. So we had a bunch of our super users go to DC, and they met with the Department of Health and Human Services, and that they were trying to find ways to come up with solutions, and track where the crisis was happening at its worst around the country, so yeah.

AVI: 33:19

Yeah, and I went to one a couple weeks ago, where I actually flew to San Francisco with money that I won from another hackathon. And it was really crazy. It was the biggest hackathon in the world or something like that. And there were thousands of people there. It was crazy, and it was really fun. I mean, I didn't win, sadly, but it was a really cool experience. A lot of them are tech for good kind of stuff. So you think of just really cool ways to help the world.

MADDIE: 33:51

[music] Thanks for tuning in to Alter Everything. Join a global community of data enthusiasts facing challenges in business, society and the world head-on and try out Alteryx for month on us to help you solve the world's toughest problems. You can also book one-on-one coaching sessions with our new Virtual Solutions Center, available at And don't forget to subscribe to Alter Everything on your favorite podcast-listening app to hear more data science and analytics culture stories. Catch you next time. [music]

This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).