Success can happen at any age, and teenage entrepreneurs have proven this to be the case. Some successful entrepreneurs aren’t old enough to have their driver’s licenses yet, but this hasn’t held them back from coming up with great ideas and developing them into popular products.
When Amber Kelley was 13 years old in September 2016, she won the competition show “Food Network Star Kids,” earning her a web series on the Food Network. She’s a leading celebrity chef, and she’s only 14, with her own YouTube channel, “Cook with Amber,” which has more than 37,000 subscribers. She was also a featured Kid Coach at the 2016 Kid Talks, put on by Mashable, and an Inspirational Kid on The Today Show.
Kelley even earned the title of Culinary Wizard on “Live from the Red Carpet,” which was broadcast before the 2015 Academy Awards on E!. First lady Michelle Obama recognized Kelley at a White House dinner for her inspirational work and entrepreneurial spirit.
Moziah “Mo” Bridges
If you’re a fan of the early seasons of “Shark Tank,” you might remember this young entrepreneur. When Moziah “Mo” Bridges launched his company, Mo’s Bows, he was only 9 years old. His grandmother taught him to sew, and he used those skills to create bow ties in bright and eye-catching fabrics. Bridges began selling his bow ties on Etsy, and the success on this site helped get his products in front of boutique owners across several states, who ordered bow ties to sell in their shops.
Bridges is now a teenager and serves as the CEO of his Memphis-based business. His family members work alongside him to continue the company’s success. Mo’s Bows has partnerships with some of the leading retailers in the nation, including Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s. He also attended the inaugural White House Demo Day, where he met President Barack Obama. Bridges even made a special “Obama Blue” bow tie for the president and presented it to him at the event.
Noa Mintz grew up on the Upper East Side of New York City. She built a reputation among her family and friends for coming up with unique and creative ways to find the best babysitters in the city. Mintz looked for characteristics and traits in babysitters that she would want for herself and decided to turn this talent for finding skilled sitters into a business. This teenage entrepreneur was only 12 when she founded Nannies by Noa, a child care placement service for families and providers in New York City and the Hamptons.
Mintz said the idea came to her when she created a solution for a problem and decided to expand that solution for more people to use. Since launching the business five years ago, she has gone on to attend high school in NYC and serve as a board member of The Friendship Circle, a program that pairs kids with special needs with teenage mentors.
Rachel Zietz was a 13-year-old lacrosse player who was unhappy with the cost and quality of lacrosse equipment, as well as the lack of selection. When she would practice her lacrosse skills at home through drills recommended by her coaches, the equipment would fall apart due to use or exposure to weather. Professional-grade equipment was far too expensive for home use. Zietz participated in the local Young Entrepreneurs Program, which was co-sponsored by the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce and Florida Atlantic University, and this gave her the idea to launch her own company.
The goal of Gladiator Lacrosse was to provide access to high-quality lacrosse equipment at prices that players could afford. Zietz serves as the CEO of the company, along with earning straight A’s in school and continuing to play lacrosse. The company formed a partnership with Casey Powell, a professional American lacrosse player. Gladiator Lacrosse has a line of equipment named for Powell, helping to increase the company’s sales through this exciting brand ambassador.
When you look at online reviews of hotels, attractions, restaurants, and other travel-themed destinations, you’ll generally only see feedback that relates to things that adults care about, such as the check-in/checkout process, comfort level of beds, and size of rooms. Bella Tipping, a 13-year-old entrepreneur from Australia, noticed that these review sites didn’t show much information about the experiences children had when they went on vacation.
She started by writing her reviews of vacation destinations she visited with her family on paper and comparing those reviews with the experiences of her parents. Tipping’s family was surprised to see that her opinions were very different from theirs. She included information about menu options on the kids’ menu at restaurants, the lumpy fold-out sofa that she slept on in the hotel room, and the views she had when waiting in line for rides at various theme parks. After sharing the information with her parents, Tipping launched kidzcationz.com, an online travel review site designed just for children.
The site doesn’t include any personal information of the children posting reviews, nor does it include photographs, to protect the kids who want to share their opinions. When parents are looking for places to visit while on vacation, they can use kidzcationz.com along with their favorite travel review sites to make sure the experience will be fun for everyone in the family.
Young Entrepreneurs Doing Big Things
Some of the teenage entrepreneurs are taking their innovations to the next level. These impressive young people are achieving great results in their fields. Many of them continue to provide exciting additions to the entrepreneurial world.
Mihir Garimella is a 17-year-old entrepreneur from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His impressive work in the fields of technology and science helped him come up with his company, Firefly. Garimella has worked on projects like HeadsUp, a low-cost device that enables professionals to diagnose concussions on the sports sidelines with a quick test of the eyes; TMAScan, image processing algorithms that help doctors diagnose brain tumors; and Robo-Mozart, a robotic tuner for violins. He also won the Google Science Fair and various awards from the media.
His latest venture, Firefly, focuses on creating and maintaining low-cost flying robots for use in emergency response and search and rescue efforts. Garimella will attend Stanford after he graduates from high school, where he will likely continue to improve his skills and strengthen his entrepreneurial spirit.
When Shubham Banerjee came up with the idea for his company, Braigo, he was only 12 years old. In the three years since the company launched, Braigo has earned a variety of awards and gained recognition on a global scale. The purpose of the company is to develop humanely optimized technology solutions that benefit people across the world, specifically those who are blind or have lost some of their sight.
Banerjee worked on a low-cost three-dimensional printer that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections to automatically convert text on a website to Braille and then print out the text for those who are visually impaired. His future goals include merging technology and medicine through innovative concepts like surgical procedures performed by robotics.
Nick D’Aloisio, a computer programmer and entrepreneur, invented Summly, an automatic summarization algorithm that can condense large blocks of text into summaries that are 140, 500, or 1000 characters in length. When he originally launched the app in March 2011, it was known as Trimit and caught the attention of Apple, which featured it as a new and noteworthy application. At that time, he received more than a quarter of a million dollars in venture capital funding from an investor and used the money to improve the app, relaunching it a few months later as Summly.
The initial version of Summly had over 200,000 downloads. D’Aloisio received another $1 million in venture funding from celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry, and Yoko Ono. Less than two years after relaunching Summly, D’Aloisio sold the app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million, making him one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs younger than 18. He is also the youngest person to receive a round of venture capital in technology, receiving his first investment at 15 years old.
With their innovative teen business ideas, these young entrepreneurs are leading the way for people around the world. Any entrepreneur can learn a great deal from someone this young who is willing to take risks and come with better ways to solve shared problems.