Successful Young Entrepreneurs
While Generation Xers struggle to move up the corporate ladder because Baby Boomers aren’t retiring as early as planned, those who fall under Generation Y have been making their own income in innovative ways. For many of them, that means entrepreneurship. This list presents some of America’s youngest entrepreneurs, and we hope it will inspire you and help you realize that it’s neither never too late or too early to pursue your dreams of being a business owner.
Hart Main is a 14-year old that came up with the idea of manly scented candles when he was teasing his sister about the girly scented ones she was selling for a school fundraiser. Although she didn’t expect him to fully pursue the manly scented candles idea himself, he did, and the idea has turned into a nationwide success. Main put in an initial investment of $100, his parents put in $200, and they all worked together to develop the candles as a group. The available scents include: Campfire, Bacon, Sawdust, Fresh Cut Grass, Grandpa’s Pipe, and more. Today, ManCans candles are in over 60 stores across the country and have sold about 9,000 units. Main will stick with selling ManCans’ inventory until he has to shift his focus back into school in the fall.
Charlotte is a young high school graduate that followed in both her father’s and grandfather’s entrepreneur footsteps when she decided to open up a business of her own called Wound Up. Inspired by some small and funky boutiques in California, Wound Up was opened to be a women’s clothing store targeting women between the ages 18 to 40. The store’s merchandise includes blouses, shorts, skirts and dresses. Fortin says that she has quickly grown up, and become much more responsible and conscious because of the experience. Also, despite working an average of nine hours a day, she is still able to keep in touch with her close friends.
Caine Monroy is only nine years old and already a business owner. He’s an arcade owner to be exact. After constructing a makeshift cardboard arcade and setting it up in his father’s auto parts store in L.A., his business has been the talk of the town with television crews and enthusiastic children coming through daily. Probably because Caine sells $1 and $2 tickets that allow four plays and 500 plays respectively. Caine also sells $15 T-shirts that say, “Caine’s Arcade” on them. Although it is unclear how much money his arcade business has made so far, in donations alone he has already raised over $212,000. His success is supposedly largely owed to an 11-minute video featuring the young entrepreneur that ended up going viral on Vimeo and YouTube.
Jack Kim is a Seattle teenager that founded Benelab, a search engine that generates donations. Kim had made some search engines in the past and quickly learned the power of a search engine in generating revenue from little traffic. He says the search engine’s mission is “to make philanthropy easy and more accessible.” After establishing the “no adults” rule, Kim began recruiting classmates to be part of his “nonprofit organization with a startup vibe” team. Kim is unsure about what will happen to Benelab when he graduates, but his goal is to get the company to $100,000 before high school ends.
Willow Tufano is a 14-year-old girl from Florida who’s mom works in real estate. Florida was hit hard by the recession, and houses that once sold for $100,000 were now being sold at auctions for $12,000. Tufano had made some money already by clearing houses and selling the possessions on Craigslist. So, when she presented the idea of buying a house for herself, her mom was onboard and gave her the support she needed. They bought a house, and in less than a year they were renting it out for $700 a month. They have already got their initial investment back. Tufano plans on buying her mother completely out in the coming years. With the housing market potentially picking back up again, she may see an amazing appreciation unfold.
Garrett Gee turned a lucky guess into a business opportunity when the iPad 2 was about to come out. This university student guessed that once the iPad 2 came out, there would soon be a blog post somewhere listing the top 10 apps for the device. After recognizing there should be easier to use and less clunky QR code software and apps, he made it his mission to be the first one to offer such a product fit for the iPad 2. He quickly got the iPad 2 into the hands of his iOS developer, and after two sleepless nights, he had accomplished his goal. His guess about the blog post was also correct. Thanks to his hard work, he made it onto that list. He recruited two fellow classmates and they launched Scan in Feb. 2011. The team raised $1.5 million from venture capitalists, including Google Ventures, and in the first year Scan earned 10 million downloads. The number of downloads grew quickly, reaching 21 million by Oct. 2011. Gee’s next move is said to be the development of a monetization plan.
Cameron Johnson got his start at the age of nine, making invitations for his parents’ holiday party. Two years later, Johnson had made thousands of dollars selling cards through his company he called Cheers and Tears. At age 12, he paid $100 for his sister’s 30 Beanie Babies and sold them on eBay for 10 times what he paid. He then purchased the dolls directly from the manufacturer and made a $50,000 profit in less than a year. He used that money to start an Internet business that brought in $3,000 per month in advertising revenue. By the time he was 15, he had formed other businesses with total revenues of $300,000 to $400,000 per month.
Fifteen-year-old Catherine Cook and her brother were looking at a yearbook and thought it would be a good idea to build a social media website built around an online version of a person’s yearbook. MyYearbook.com was launched and later merged with an ad-supported site that allows users to post and complete online quizzes. By 2006, the site had raised $4.1 million in venture capital funding and had three million members worldwide. The site has attracted large advertisers like Disney and ABC. Cooks reports annual sales of “seven figures.”
Eight dollars started Qualls’ journey that has led her to $70,000 per month in revenue. When MySpace was popular, people complimented Qualls on her MySpace page designs. She posted the designs online for people to purchase and that propelled her to a $70,000 per month revenue with seven million monthly visitors. She made so much money that she dropped out of school to devote her time to her business. She was offered $1.5 million for her business, but turned it down.
At the age of 14, Doherty began making jams from his grandmother’s recipes. As the word got out, he began receiving more orders than he had time to fill. He dropped out of school and rented a 200-person factory a few days each month. In 2007, a high-end U.K. supermarket approached Doherty about selling his jams, leading to his products gaining shelf space in 184 stores. By 2007, his company had $750,000 in sales. Since then, his company has continued to grow throughout Europe.
The Bottom Line
Nothing should be used as an excuse for not pursuing your dreams of being an entrepreneur. From these inspiring young business owners, we can see that it doesn’t matter how old or how young you are, nor how big or how small your idea is. Entrepreneurship can be achieved by many different demographics. All we have to do to get our business ideas to blossom is find some support and put the work in. We hope this slideshow has inspired you to keep believing in yourself and in your business idea.