10 Kids Who Started Wildly Successful Companies
Image: 3rd eye photographer/Flickr
While most kids stick with lemonade stands, some young entrepreneurs take their business much further. Millions of dollars and multiple countries further, that is, with products in tech, software, business, and even bacon. We detail 10 of those talented and well-supported kids below.
Though his business isn’t as all-pervasive as, say, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, 20-year-old Sean Belnick has still made an impact on his community, and has a businesses with far-reaching popularity. With something as simple and ubiquitous as the common chair, the BizChair.com founder turned his $500 at the age of 14 into at least $24 million by 2006.
The company Belnick started from his bedroom now employs 75 workers. His offerings include medical equipment, computer and office furniture, home furnishings and school furniture as well. With a base in Kennesaw, Georgia, and a warehouse (that stocks most of the things he sells) in Canton, GA, as well as notable customers like the Pentagon, American Idol and Microsoft, we’d say he is doing pretty darn well for himself.
The origins Adam Horowitz’s miniature financial empire came about in a bad way, but he has since made good. He, along with fellow classmates, launched a distressingly popular nasty gossip blog when he was 15. Needless to say, the parents shut it down right quick.
Still, the experience taught Horowitz about the potential in internet marketing. So he started his own site, Urban Stomp, which hosted music and listed the locations of parties in his local area (he lived in the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles). To pull in cash, he sold clothing through affiliate sites.
Horowitz was unprepared for how successful it would be. His first listing (an accidental posting to the home of an 80-year old neighbor) drew over 700 rowdy teens. Ouch. But what started out as an awkward foray into the world of digital business has since been turned around.
Horowitz now teaches courses to 15+ year olds on how to make money online, and he runs mobile marketing sites like ‘Mobile Monopoly,’ and ‘Cell Phone Treasure,’ which have both earned him over $100,000. Additionally, he has another one that is up and coming, ‘Dude, I Hate My Job!’
What does this budding young entrepreneur do in his spare time? He tools around in his 2010 Audi A5 and playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 on his 360. Moral of the story: Not all video gamers are shiftless slackers. And, whether or not you agree with internet marketing affiliate-based programs, you have to give the kid props for starting this up on his own.
In many places, young people can’t even start work until they hit the age of 16–child labor laws makes sure of that. And even if we don’t want to go back to the days of Dickensian-inspired ‘A working child is a happy child,’ we certainly can’t discount young ladies like the 13-year old Leanna Archer.
So what did this tiny Trump do? Why, no less than started her very own hair care empire from her parents’ basement.
People had begun to ask Leanna what she put in her luxurious locks. It was, in fact, a pomade made by her grandmother. She told them that it was her grandma’s secret recipe, but then she got the wild idea to market this to people she knew.
Her parents weren’t so hot on the idea, but after her grandma whipped up a batch of the stuff and Leanna stuck some in baby food jars to give to her classmates and ostensibly their parents, the money began rolling in. She had already researched the particulars on obtaining a business license and about getting a Tax ID. So impressed were her folks was they all but said, ‘Where do we sign up?’ And that’s how Leanna’s Hair came to be.
For lovers of art, whatever form it takes, be it in words, the stroke of a brush, the strike of a chord, the click of a camera shutter, or the click of a mouse, few can argue the wild success of deviantArt.
Begun in 2000 by Angelo Sotira (who was 18 at the time) and a few others, dA is a monstrously popular site where users can set up an account to show off their work, sell prints of their work, buy sponsored merchandise, view others’ work, as well as comment on others’ work. As of 2010, 14.5 million ‘deviants’ call the site home, with over 100 million submissions (an average of 140,000 a day).
Despite its success, deviantArt had its share of troubles. One of the founders, Scott Jarkoff, was let go, and there was a whole legal mess between Angelo and the third founder. Supposedly Angelo was going to use dA’s own money to pay for legal costs.
However it all ends up, we’d like to think that deviantArt is here to stay. Get your act together boy. You’ve got lots of folks who want to continue making and showing off the goods!
Who doesn’t love crispy, tasty bacon? In 1993, then 8-year old Abbey Fleck was making bacon one morning with her dad. Normally you drain those curly strips of artery-clogging goodness on paper towels, but the Flecks were out, and nobody wants to use newspaper or anything else with ink on it.
That’s when Abbey and her dad came up with an ingenious and far healthier way to cook bacon – by letting it drip cook. Their microwave-safe, inch-deep plastic skillet comes with a framework above the dish to support the rashers of bacon. When they’re done cooking, you just dispose of the grease as usual. You still need a paper towel to keep it from spattering all over the place, but no longer do you have to let your strips of salted pork sit in congealing grease that gets all over your fingers and makes a huge mess.
Numbers are lean, but Abbey and dad’s Makin BaconCE appliance has really helped her, er, bring home the bacon.
While this millionaire he didn’t invent Beanie Babies, they certainly got him off to a good start. Cameron Johson started his first business at the age of nine. At age 12, he sold his sister’s Beanie Babies on the internet for a tidy profit of $50,000. (We wonder, did she know? Little girls are rather possessive about their stuffed cute things. The greenbacks were probably enough to sway her from murdering her brother for selling what was probably a cherished collection.)
Since then, he has became (at 15) the youngest American to be elected to a Tokyo board of directors. Johnson even released a book about it, called 15-Year Old CEO, which peaked at #4 on the Japanese best seller list.
With his diverse knowledge and mad marketing skills, this young entrepreneur has enjoyed appearances on notable shows including Oprah Winfrey, MSNBC, CNBC, as well as articles in the Washington Post and the New York Times. One thing is for certain, the young Johnson is one businessman to keep your eyes on.
When you think of making millions, you probably don’t think about jam, Smuckers or Welches notwithstanding. But one Scottish youth, Fraser Doherty, made his millions off just that.
Doherty began making jam from fruit and fruit juice, based on his grandma’s recipe, out of his parents’ kitchen at the tender age of 15. He mostly sold to friends and fellow churchgoers, but demand quickly spiked, outstripping his ability to produce.
Since starting, Doherty’s jam has spread to virtually every grocery chain in the UK and Ireland, including the biggest UK retailer of them all, Sainsbury. His product, SuperJam, comes in a wide array of unique flavors, including blueberry & blackcurrant and rhubarb & ginger.
This religious lad isn’t even about the money. Sure, the profits are as sweet as the jam, but he loves making the stuff so much that that’s all he focuses on. Still, it must be nice having the dough roll in doing something you love.
This quirky CEO didn’t start out rich, but his savvy, coupled with his can-do spirit and obsession with success, has made him one of the hottest commodities in the IT market.
SCVNGR’s ‘chief ninja’ (“because you never negotiate with ninjas”) has a unique hit with the eponymous smart phone app. It’s a software platform where, like a scavenger hunt, you accomplish tasks in certain real-life places. This might seem counterintuitive, but in a world where sedentary games like Farmville and Mafia Wars, to say nothing of World of Warcraft or Rift and Minecraft (all good games in their way) fill the market, there’s something to be said for a game where it forces you to go out and do stuff.
Ironically, Seth doesn’t do a whole of that. For many, all work and no play is unhealthy, yet Seth seems to thrive on it. In fact, he seems to be happiest behind his desk.
What do high school and chemical warfare have in common? Anshul Samar, mostly.
In a world where hotshot entrepreneurs are becoming CEOs of their very own companies at a younger and younger age, Samar is set to make his mark own unique on the gaming world with his neat trading card game, called Elementeo. In it, you and your opponent each have sets of chemicals that you use to destroy one another at the atomic level. Elementeo is basically an exercise in ‘making chemistry fun’ for kids.
Samar didn’t just start in the last few months. As far back as the fourth grade, he had an idea for a chemistry-based card game, but it took him years to work out all the quirks (or quarks, for you card-playing particle physicists out there).
Now, the 10th-grade CEO of the impressively named Alchemist Empire, Inc. is set to introduce millions of kids to his unique brand of fun and learning. In a market flooded by trading card games like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering, this is arguably one of the freshest ideas.
In addition to starting up a fun little game, Samar’s interests span from music (he plays the guitar, drums and keyboard), to the Debate Club, basketball, poetry and activities dealing with youth empowerment.
When it comes to empowering little girls and teaching them about what it means to be a smart, savvy, successful adult, role models aren’t always in abundance. Those that are don’t always work out as planned.
Take Barbie, for instance. Sure Mattel’s behemoth started with the best of intentions, but it led to stereotypes and unrealistic expectations about a woman’s life and appearance.
Juliette Brindak wanted to do something more, something that could not be misconstrued and would provide a positive influence. Ergo, you have her site, Miss O and Friends. She first conceived of the site at age 10. Now, at 19, she and her site are worth about $15 million.
For parents, the site, which hosts a club called Miss O Moms, offers informative and engaging information about children and families. For young ladies, Miss O provides a safe place for them to explore what it means to be a young woman, hang out in a virtual environment with friends and schoolmates and develop meaningful and fun relationships.
Sites like Facebook don’t really cut it, because you have to at least be 13, and little girls are, if nothing else, curious and creatures, just like their icky boy counterparts. What better place than MissOandFriends to figure out who they are?