At one point or another, many of us may have stumbled upon an idea or a premise for a potential money-spinner, only to abandon it for the realities of real-life.
After all, working a full-time job while starting a business is hard work by anyone’s standards, and with all the other distractions of the modern world, what could have been a promising venture is soon slowly forgotten.
Imagine, then, trying to make it as a business owner while still being in school. Contending with exams, social anxieties and the rigours of adolescence are all challenging enough, but creating, developing and managing a viable company on top of it?
Suffice to say, there’s a reason why the young entrepreneurs in this article are making such big waves.
Whether you’re a budding Richard Branson yourself or you’re simply looking to connect with the creative nature of your own younger self, then look no further for inspiration; these are some of the most successful teen entrepreneurs in the world.
1. Akshay Ruparelia
If you’ve ever bought or sold a property in the UK and coiled back in horror at the exorbitant commission taken by the estate agent, then Akshay Ruparelia’s Doorsteps should be your next port of call. As an industry disruptor in the mould of Uber and Airbnb, the online realtor charges clients just £99 (about $130) all in – regardless of the sale price.
Despite selling an average of 30 properties a week and having his business valued at over £12 million ($15.7 million) in 2017, the 19-year-old Londoner remains grounded, too. He still lives at home so he can help his deaf parents and he successfully passed his A-levels last year, while an offer from Oxford University has been deferred in order to focus on Doorsteps.
2. Mikaila Ulmer
The story goes that, having been stung as a small child, Mikaila Ulmer learned about bees to overcome her fear of them. Few could have predicted what would follow, though, with the 13-year-old subsequently concocting the Me & the Bees lemonade brand (with the help of her parents, of course).
Since then, Ulmer’s creation has far exceeded the typical front-lawn lemonade stand. In 2015, when she was just 9 years old, an $11 million (£8.4 million) distribution deal was struck with US supermarket giants Whole Foods Market. While the Texas native continues to balance business, school and public speaking engagements, she has also demonstrated a clear capacity for forgiveness, too: 10% of her brand’s proceeds are now donated to bee conservation charities.
3. Benjamin Kapelushnik
A self-described 'rare sneaker dealer', Benjamin ‘Kickz’ Kapelushnik is clearly living a life that most 19-year-old boys can only fantasise about. A quick glance of his Instagram, for instance, shows the Miami native in cahoots with a whole host of famous rappers and athletes, while luxury sports cars, wads of money and scantily-clad women also make regular appearances.
Essentially a middleman for said celebrities in the acquisition and supply of highly coveted trainers (yes, you read that right), Kapelushnik is nothing if not versatile; his online store, SneakerDon, gives us mere mortals access to his footwear inventory – bringing in over $1 million (£763,000) a year in the process – while a customised jewellery line is next up in the works.
4. Noa Mintz
Babysitting has always been a quick and easy way for teenagers to make money, but few will have quite hit the revenue heights of Noa Mintz; she founded the matchmaking childcare service Nannies by Noa when she was just 12 years old.
Since then, the New York native has been featured in an array of major media broadcasts, publications and conferences, while Nannies by Noa continues to blossom – even if she isn’t at the head of it. In 2015, the 17-year-old hired Allison Johnson (an experienced CEO) to run the business on her behalf, citing the 40+ hours a week she was putting in as ‘distracting’ her from her 8th grade coursework.
5. Moziah Bridges
Taught by his grandmother how to cut and sew fabric, Moziah ‘Mo’ Bridges’s first taste of the business world was pitching (along with his mother and business partner, Tramica) to the denizens of Shark Tank – a daunting prospect for any entrepreneur, let alone a then 11-year-old. Yet despite receiving an offer of investment, Bridges decided to take up Daymond John’s offer of free mentorship, instead. It’s a decision, it seems, that is paying for itself.
Under John’s guidance, Mo’s Bows attracts growing yearly sales in the upper six figures, while the mother-and-son team have also secured a lucrative partnership deal with the NBA. The now 16-year-old Bridges is also keen to give back, too, partnering with an array of charities, while his long-term aspirations involve a full-time career in fashion design.
6. Rachel Zietz
A company CEO at the age of 13 and a self-made millionaire by 15, Rachel Zietz – through her hugely successful online sportswear company Gladiator Lacrosse – has seemingly achieved more in her formative years than many entrepreneurs manage in a lifetime.
As a noted lacrosse player herself, Zietz’s knowledge and passion shine through in her products, while the Florida native has also been able to gain vital exposure through numerous media and television appearances. Her business earned over $2 million (£1.5 million) in 2018, while Zietz herself is currently studying economics at Princeton University.
7. Ben Pasternak
A high school dropout that emigrated to the other side of the world aged 15, Ben Pasternak created his first successful mobile app while bored in biology lessons. Since then, he has built several successful online projects, including the teenager-targeted buy-and-sell platform Flogg as well as the hugely popular video chat platform Monkey, which generated nearly $2 million (£1.5 million) in venture capital and sold last year to rivals HOLLA for an undisclosed fee.
Now residing in New York City, the 19-year-old is in the planning stages of his next project.
8. Logan Guleff
Having won the US version of the prestigious Junior MasterChef competition in 2014, 16-year-old Logan Guleff is perhaps best known for his exploits in the kitchen. Since then, however, he has also shown an intuitive entrepreneurial streak, releasing his own spice blend (Logan’s Rub) and an egg seasoning.
The Tennessee native has also released a critically acclaimed cookbook, Cooking Dreams, alongside further television appearances, continued culinary recognition and even a meeting with former US president Barack Obama at the White House. He also runs a successful blog, Order Up! with Logan, in which he discusses the various restaurants he visits.
9. Henry Patterson
Having written and published a children’s book, The Adventures of Sherb and Pip, before the grand old age of 10, Henry Patterson quickly realised that the real revenue opportunities lay in bringing his characters to life. Through the help of numerous grants and the creation of his company Not Before Tea, he has since released a whole range of children’s and babies’ products, from bags to soft toys and everything in between.
Still only 14, Patterson is continuing to diversify, too, with his latest money-making venture based around entrepreneurship itself. Young & Mighty is aimed at getting more teenagers involved in entrepreneurial pursuits, claiming you don’t need to reach adulthood before you can start earning for yourself; if his own story is anything to go by, he certainly has a valid point.
Indeed, as all these young men and women prove, age is no barrier to success; if you have the right idea and the drive and motivation to bring it to life, then people will take you seriously.
So, the next time you see a problem that needs fixing or a market gap that no one else has exploited, don’t put it to the back of your mind. Regardless of if you’re in the ninth grade or the pinnacle of your career, it’s never too early – or too late – to be successful on your own. After all, as these nine teenagers prove, age is certainly just a number.
Who else should be on this list? Do know someone who’s bringing in the big bucks? Let us know in the comments section below!
All currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 18 October 2018.