How Ghanaian immigrant Iddris Sandu became a tech leader

Sandu began his career at Google at 13-years-old

Iddris Sandu, a 23-year-old Ghanaian architectural technologist, responsible for the algorithms in apps such as Uber, Snapchat, and Instagram, has become a leader in technology.

Sandu, who was born in Accra, Ghana and raised in South Central Los Angeles, was as young as 10-years-old when he began to learn programming at a local library. His skill ultimately led to him being discovered by a designer from Google.

Honoree Iddris Sandu speaks onstage at the Culture Creators 4th Annual Innovators & Leaders Awards Brunch at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Culture Creators)

After an internship, he began his career at Google at 13 and two years later created a smartphone app to help his fellow classmates find their classrooms, according to The African Dream.

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“Kids from Compton, kids from inner cities, aren’t given the same information — especially on how to build technology,” Sandu said in a Beats By Dre interview.

Most noticeably, Sandu partnered with late rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle in 2017 to help make The Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles the first smart store.

The store used a custom app to scan album covers, clothing tags, and logos throughout the store. Once scanned, the app would stream exclusive video content from Hussle.

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Hussle met Sandu at a local Starbucks where Sandu was working on a project. The two ultimately struck up a conversation which lead to their partnership until Hussle’s death in 2019.

“It was crazy and by chance, but I don’t think it was on accident,” Hussle said of his encounter in a Billboard interview.

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