Entrepreneurial Kids Prove Business Can Be Child’s Play

If you thought those kids in the Olympics were something, check out these enterprising kids who started on their millions as young as 14 years old.

Catering to the Whatever Crowd


Ashley Qualls founded whateverlife.com at age 17 with $8 she borrowed from her mother. Her company designs and gives away personalized background designs for MySpace pages and brings in more than $1 million a year in advertising revenue alone. And anyone who can train a cat to pose for publicity shots – well, she must be a genius.

Who says there’s no future in fast food?

When Catherine Peña started working the blender at her local Smoothie King, she was 16. By age 22, she had become the youngest store owner in the franchise. She credits her success with working her way through the ranks and the discipline it takes to turn down evenings out with friends, who may or may not understand the demands of her business.

Finding the Right Fit

Adam Wong is another young franchisee, but unlike Pena, he had no experience with the Great Harvest Bread Co. when he lobbied the company to let him open one in Hawaii. He’d already started two computer-related startups when he decided the Great Harvest philosophy matched his own. He loved that they were all about sharing and generosity. By the end of its first year in business, Wong’s store placed among the company’s top 10 in single store sales with $720,000.

Tallying Austin's Losses After SXSW Cancellation

Saving the Worlddanielburd 

It all starts with an idea. Daniel Burd may not be in business yet, but he’s on his way. This industrious student won the top prize at a national Canadian science fair for his design to make plastic bags degrade faster. Instead of hundreds of years in a landfill, Burd figured a way to get the job done in about three months. By grinding plastic bags into a powder and combining them with household chemicals, yeast, and tap water, he created a solution that encourages microbe growth. That plus dirt and cool temperatures and you’ve got significant plastic degradation.

Now that’s thinking outside the box — I mean bag.

The question is, what can we do to encourage this kind of dedication, imagination, and drive in our young people?