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.

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?

  • Absolutely great article. Everyone might have good ideas – but the difference is actually executing on them. These kids have a lot less to lose and a lot more energy – and all they did was follow through on their dreams with some common sense resources. We all can learn from them!

  • Congratulations! Catherine and Daniel are on the right track!

    I admire the young! One advice i could give them is to manage their money because eventually, the most successful people are those who become money managers. I have an article in http://www.crackinggold.com entitled “Financial Advice For The Twenty Something” which I think is also applicable to young entrepreneurs.

  • What a great article! I love it when kids have the self confidence it takes to succeed in an adults world.

    I’m sure that no matter what they do in the future, their lives will always be enriched by their experience in making their own financial success so early on.

    America, why can’t EVERY child accomplish what these young people have done? When will we realize that our future starts with our children? Thanks for the great article, Business Pundit!