For most people, the word ‘entrepreneur’ conjures up images of seasoned businesspeople like Bill Gates, George Foreman and Sir Alan Sugar.
These household names are not just business owners, but innovators and ranked among the wealthiest people in the world. But business acumen doesn’t necessarily come with age, or even experience.
In this article, we’re going to explore fifteen of the most successful teen entrepreneurs who aren’t just successful business owners, but remarkable young people.
1. Cory Nieves
Based in the town of Englewood, New Jersey, Cory Nieves - otherwise known as ‘Mr Cory’ - found his fortune alongside the affectionately named ‘Cookie Mom’ (his mother). He is among the youngest on this list, starting his enterprise at just six years old. Specialising in delightful all-natural flavoured cookies and sweet treats, Nieves has already found himself working with huge names like Mercedes-Benz, Ralph Lauren and Whole Foods.
2. Kenan Pala
Another young innovator, Kenan Pala set up non-profit Kids4Community when he was aged just 11 years old. Pala describes his lightbulb moment on a leisurely run along the beach with his father. There, he came across a stranded seal who had attracted the attention and assistance of passers-by keen to come to its aid.
To his dismay, no such concern was afforded to poverty-stricken people, trapped in a similar way by deprivation. Cue the inception of Kids4Community — the non-profit aiming to give youngsters a way to get engaged in tackling homelessness in their community.
3. Langston Whitlock
A featured name on the 2019 Forbes ‘30 under 30’, Langston Whitlock developed his first messaging app at just twelve years old. Since then, the Atlanta-based entrepreneur has co-founded SAFETRIP, a healthcare-based ridesharing app to help non-emergency patients reach healthcare settings affordably. Think Uber for ambulances, with an option to bill an insurer directly.
4. Josh Feinsilber
At 19 years old, John Feinsilber incubated his enterprise, Gimkit, during a brainstorming session for an unrelated idea while in high school. As an education-based quiz mobile app, Gimkit lets teachers create resources in the form of game-style quizzes. Currently, it is in use by learners in more than 100 countries across the globe and it has been cited to increase learning and knowledge acquisition by up to 14%.
5. Jeremy Miller
As a 20-year-old, Jeremy Miller isn’t strictly a teenager anymore, but his story starts long before the present day. His story is also unique in that it starts as one fraught with failure.
Miller started his first company, Void Longboards, when he was 16. Despite successful brand building, Miller’s company eventually folded. Undeterred, and motivated by his significant social media reach, Miller formed his new company, J R Miller Group, a social media consultancy which later became Inspired Blue Media - a media firm that boasts and extensive client list, such as Subaru and NASA.
6. Mikaila Ulmer
The story of the kid with the lemonade stand may be cliché, but for Texas-born Mikaila Ulmer, supported by a tried-and-tested family recipe, it was the start of her business success. Known as ‘Me & The Bees Lemonade’, the product sells more than half a million units a year in over 1,500 outlets across the United States. Now, Ulmer has turned her attention towards developing other product lines, like a newly launched natural beeswax lip balm.
7. Erik Finman
Erik Finman’s career started after making a negotiation with his parents – if he could turn a $1000 into $1 million, his parents said, then he didn’t have to go to college.
Determined to succeed, Finman turned his attention to crypto currency, purchasing a haul of the currency at a value of $12. By the age of 18 his Crypto portfolio had a value in excess of $1 million, hence upholding the deal he made with his parents. Finman is now focused on financial education and aims to funds new entrepreneurial ventures in future.
8. Benjamin Kapelushnik
Featured in Fortune’s ‘18 under 18’ and The Guardian’s ‘Teen Power List’, Brooklyn-born Benjamin Kapelushnik earned his first million dollars in sales revenue at just 16 years old. His business ventures involve the purchasing and reselling of high-value, exclusive footwear collections to high profile clients including DJ Khaled, Floyd Mayweather and Kevin Hart. In the last two years, his cultural influence has expanded with his debut on the music scene with his released single ‘Let You Go’.
Starting her entrepreneurial journey at the young age of three, Isabella Rose Taylor is an accomplished TED speaker and winner of multiple national and international awards for both poetry and art. She was featured in Fast Company’s ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ and at the age of 12 was already selling clothing designs, before moving onto interior design and furniture pieces.
10. Rachel Zietz
Frustrated by the quality of her lacrosse rebounder, Rachel Ziets set out to re-design it. With a thicker net and stronger bars, this became the first product of her new company, Gladiator Lacrosse. The firm exceeded $7 million in revenue in 2020, following the acquisition of sports ball manufacturer All Ball Pro, and while the business continues to grow and develop, Zietz maintains a keen interest in her academic studies at Princeton.
11. Moziah Bridges
Moziah Bridges, known affectionately as ‘Mo Bridges’, is the CEO of Memphis-based, family-run business Mo’s Bows — a handmade bowtie manufacturing firm.
Inspired by his father’s default of dressing smart for all occasions (even forgoing about the house), Bridges had an urge to buy his first bowtie. He was disappointed when he began his search, noticing a gap in the market for high-quality, affordable bows. Cue Mo’s Bows. Starting out on Etsy, Moziah’s firm now has an exclusive deal to feature the NBA logo on their products.
12. Zandra Cunningham
Driven by her parent’s refusal to buy her a new lip balm, young entrepreneur Zandra Cunningham set out to make her own, at home, at nine years old. Just under a year later she went on to launch Azariah’s Innocence, retailing lip balms and body butters packed with natural ingredients at a local farmer’s market. Her drive for natural products that promote healthy skin and improve self-confidence continues undeterred as her business keeps growing.
13. Ben Pasternak
Named one of Time’s ‘Most Influential Teenagers’ in 2016, Australian tech entrepreneur Ben Pasternak developed his first app, Impossible Rush, because he was bored in class at school. The app grossed higher than both Tinder and Twitter, peaking at number 16 on the iOS App Store charts with millions of downloads. He went on to develop Flogg, a social buy-and-sell platform which folded in 2016, Monkey, a video chat networking platform which was subsequently acquired by Holla, and SIMULATE, a sustainable nutrition firm now valued at over $250 million.
14. George Matus
CEO of Teal Drones, Utah-based George Matus first discovered his interest in flying gadgets in 2014. Since its inception, the firm has raised over $16 million in venture capital, supporting the development of drone products with a top speed of more than 70 mph. Matus believes that the role of drones is much more than just that of a flying camera, and that their benefit should be accessible to all.
15. Logan Guleff
Known as a contestant on Masterchef Junior, 19-year-old culinary prodigy Logan Guleff was also featured in Time’s ‘30 Most Influential Teenagers’ list in 2016. Guleff now operates as a private chef whilst preparing to launch the first of his own chain of outlets, Logan’s Underground Supper Club. Guleff maintains a keen media presence through television appearances to promote launches of his cookbooks.
While entrepreneurs are typically experienced businesspeople who have been ‘around the block’, so to speak, these 15 examples are clear evidence that what makes an entrepreneur is their capacity to spot an opportunity and utilise their talent to convert it into a commercial success.
These remarkable young entrepreneurs have certainly capitalised on their ideas and proven that, regardless of your age, anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Join the discussion! Are you a young entrepreneur yourself? Have you got any promising business ideas? Share them with us in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 14 November 2018.