It’s a common misconception (an occasional excuse for some) that thriving entrepreneurialism is something you build over years of long hours and extensive experience. There’s a growing number of budding young businessmen and women proving however that you don’t need either to throw yourself into a successful venture. This growing band of emerging entrepreneurs are launching businesses from their bedrooms before they’ve even finished school. Take Summly founder Nick D’alois, who sold his news app to Yahoo for a cool $30 million at the age of 17, or Zoe Sugg, the British beauty vlogger who now earns a reported $100,000 a month after launching her own YouTube channel in 2009. Enter the new wave of what has been dubbed the ‘startup generation’: instead of engaging in your typical teenage pastimes, these young entrepreneurs are well on their way to making their first million (and further prove that there’s no better time than right now to make those business dreams come true).
Noa Mintz, 13 / Founder, Nannies by Noa
Noa launched her own babysitting service, which is now worth an estimated USD$375,000, when she was just 12. Nannies by Noa, which serves residents of New York and the Hamptons, works by matching clients with a babysitter and charging anything between $50 and $100 per match. “I gave it a shot and it got very big very fast,” says Noa, who now employs a 26-year-old CEO.
Nina Devani, 16 / Founder of DevaniSoft
Nina launched her own computer security software company at the tender age of 14. Then, when her dad had his Facebook account hacked after forgetting his password, the company launched its first app: Prompt Me Nina. The app is aimed at people (like Nina’s father) who often forget their various usernames and passwords and provide prompts without actually revealing any sensitive information. The company has been “profitable since launch,” says Nina, who adds that she has five employees and 10 consultants.
Ollie Forsyth, 18 / Founder of Ollie’s Shop
Before launching his online gift store at the age of 13, the precocious teen would charge his parents 20p for their morning cup of tea and a further 20p if it required reheating, which should say all you need to know about Ollie’s entrepreneurial spirit. After the store – which is aimed at unique presents for teenagers and their parents – made approximately AUD$10,000 within a few short months, the UK based teen began thinking about his next venture. Ollie has recently launched his own online magazine and even plans to start a digital marketing agency.
“I thought I was a failure at school, and I was quite badly bullied,” Ollie confesses. “It feels pretty good to be where I am right now.”
Ryan Kelly, 12 / Founder of Ry’s Ruffery
At just 10 years old, Ryan founded healthy dog treat business Ry’s Ruffery after deeming the doggy snacks his mum Daniela bought for his two-month-old rescue beagle below par. Ryan’s quest for a better dog biscuit led to an appearance on US reality show Shark’s Tank, following which Ry’s Ruffery has surged in popularity, with sales rocketing up to USD$350,000 within months of the show airing.
“I would tell any kid that wants to start their own business to never let anyone tell them what they can’t do,” advises Ryan, who developed his healthy dog snacks from his mum’s kitchen. “Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we aren’t capable and smart. We just see things differently, and that’s not always bad.”
Bella Tipping, 13 / Founder of Kidzcationz
Bella founded the travel review website – touted as the TripAdvisor for children – at just 12 years old following a disappointing family holiday. “Mum was filling out a TripAdvisor review and she liked a hotel where we had stayed and gave it a great review, but I really didn’t like it at all as it was so adult-focused,” says Bella from Dubbo, who adds, “it seemed like the parents mattered but the kids didn’t.”
After writing up a business plan for a website where children could rate hotels, theme parks, restaurants and other attractions, Bella’s parents invested AUD$80,000 and Kidzcationz was born.
James Anderson, 18 / Co-founder of Space Lounges
James was still at school when he had the idea for Space Lounges, a series of “next generation coffee lounges” where you receive “the finest customer service” through a mobile app. After receiving investment from John Lewis, one of the UK’s largest retailers, Space Lounges now operate out of nine different cafés across London.
“The biggest challenge for us is actually managing our time,” says James, who began building websites at the age of seven. “We don’t have all the pressures of things like a family but we have a lot of other pressures. You are never going to be fully ready and the best way to start is to get yourself out there. I have made a lot of mistakes and have learned from them.”