Just about anyone with a Facebook account knows that Mark Zuckerberg had the idea for the social media platform while he was a college student at Harvard. Named one of the wealthiest people in the world by Time magazine in 2010, he was already a billionaire by age 23. Although Zuckerberg is one of the best-known success stories out there, many other entrepreneurs have struck it big before they were legally allowed to vote.
They may not be household names, but here are five other ‘treps who started successful businesses before the age of 18:
Sarah Buckel, 16
Disney Channel fan Sarah wanted a colorful locker like the ones that she saw on her favorite TV shows but did not want to deal with the hassle of scraping sticky papers off of her locker door at the end of the school year. When Sarah’s dad began working at a company that made magnetic business cards, the teen had an “Ah ha!” moment and developed magnetic locker wallpaper. One year into her operation and $1 million richer, she and her family purchased the company where her father worked and began working on future products.
Jason Li, 15
After completing a Junior Achievement competition without feeling completely satisfied, 15-year-old Jason Li decided to start a real company rather than the mock business the experience taught him about. With a $2,000 loan from his father, Jason launched iReTron out of his bedroom. iReTron purchases old electronics such as iPhones and iPads and refurbishes them; then resells or donates them. Business is already booming for the teen and he showcases his company at festival booths and speaking engagements.
Ashley Qualls, 14
MySpace may be considered vintage these days, but it was once the cream of the social media crop. During the MySpace heyday, 14-year-old Ashley decided to offer free MySpace layouts that appealed to girls her age on her website whateverlife.com. Layouts were free and instantly became incredibly popular. Wise-minded Ashley charged companies to advertise on her site and target her millions of visitors. Before she was even 17, she had purchased her own home and turned down a $1.5 million offer for her company. (Maybe she should have said yes?)
Abby Fleck, 8
Abbey Fleck hadn’t even lived a full decade when she had her big idea. After seeing her mom reprimand her dad for using pieces of newspaper to soak up bacon grease, Abbey was inspired to create the Makin’ Bacon, a contraption that let bacon hang in the microwave rather than lie flat. Bacon grease then dripped into a tray that could be emptied easily. Her dad must have given up the newspaper habit, because the duo launched a company that became so popular Walmart ordered 100,000 Makin’ Bacons on its first order.
Stephen Ou, 15
At the tender age of 15, Stephen had already launched five entrepreneurial projects. He is the founder of WordPress editor ArtsyEditor and has created numerous web apps, including iTunes Instant and TwtRoulette. His work has been mentioned in Forbes, TechCrunch, Mashable and more. Not bad for a high school student!
Is a child or tween in your life already showing great business sense? As you can see from these five entrepreneurs who made it big before the age of 18, that summertime lemonade stand could morph into the big leagues before you know it!
Author Byline: Michael “Big Mike” McCaffery enjoys encouraging others along in their careers or business ideas, especially young people who have fresh ways of looking at old problems. Big Mike works at godishcareers.com and you can visit their LinkedIn profile as well.