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If you’re never too old to follow your dreams, then you are never too young to get them underway. While some kids are out scraping their knees and playing in dirt, others are dutifully honing their business skills, devising innovative ways to monetize on their ideas either all on their own or through government grants for entrepreneurs. Here are 10 inspiring stories of exceptional child entrepreneurs and their path to success.
Cameron Johnson- Greeting Cards, Beanie Babies and Online Enterprises
While other kids were playing outside, Cameron Johnson was trotting his red wagon behind him, going door-to-door selling vegetables to his neighbors. That was when he was seven. By nine, he was the top-raffle-ticket-seller in his school, selling several hundred in a matter of weeks. His parents bought him a computer and printer for Christmas that year and a few months later he started his own business- printing greeting cards, stationary, and invitations for family and friends. A born businessman at 12 years old, he gave his sister $100 for her collection of 30 beanie babies, which he then sold on e-bay, raking in $50 000 a year. Investing in the stock market thereafter, by the time he was 15, his greeting card company had grown to sales in excess of $15,000 per day and he was eventually asked to become an Advisory Board Member to FutureKids, a Tokyo-based company as well as Sega America. Today, Cameron is 24-years-old and primarily spends his time traveling to different speaking engagements around the world. He is also very involved with several non-profit organizations.
Javier Fernández-Han- VERSATILE system
In order to meet the basic needs of many of the world’s poor, 15 year old Texan, Javier Fernández-Han, invented a fully featured algae-powered energy system, which captures and neutralizes greenhouse gases, treats waste and produces energy and food. Javier says that his system can be scaled up to provide for populations of 200,000 or more, or scaled down for smaller populations. Dubbed the VERSATILE system, the project was winner of the annual Invent Your World Challenge $20,000 scholarship.
Anshul Samar- Elementeo
At 13 years old, Anshul Samar is the founder and CEO of Alchemist Empire Inc. His first product, Elementeo is a card game based on chemistry designed to be both fun and educational. In Elementeo, elements from the periodic table have their own personality and fight with each other using their properties and oxidation states. For instance, Oxygen Life Giver rusts metals, Copper Cyclops shocks element cards around him, and Helium Genie airlifts element cards in balloons. Throughout the game, players create compounds, combat with element reactions, and conquer their opponent with black holes and slippery bases. Elementeo’s initial seed funding came in the form of a $500 grant from the California Association for the Gifted.
Leanna Archer- Hair Inc.
Leanna founded her company Hair Inc. when she was 8 years old, and was named Inc.com Magazine’s Youngest 30 Entrepreneurs under 30. Using a family formula for hair repair, she began her career by selling her product to fellow students. The buzz spread quickly and soon orders were coming from stores and online across the US. Meanwhile, Leanna still has time to develop new products, make the honor roll in middle school and has even been offered a scholarship from Harvard. She also delivers motivational speeches for parents in communication skills and teens to live their dreams and start their own business.
Umar Brimah- Yumazu Anime Shop
At the age of 12, Umar Brimah runs his very own anime store called Yumazu (his name in Japanese). He opened the new shop in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Turning his hobby into business, his mother put up $10,000 as an opening investment. Considering the Internet is one the only places you can find anime, some products can end up costing twice the price, plus shipping charges. Yumazu offers anime collectors a place where they won’t have to pay extra money to get what they want. Umar hopes to one day expand his business to a chain of stores.
Jason O’Neill- Pencil Bugs
Jason O’Neill is a young entrepreneur who started his own business called Pencil Bugs at the age of 9, selling hand-made bug-like pencil toppers. Soon after the success of Pencil Bugs he began making matching laminated bookmarks and t-shirts. Future projects will include a Pencil Bugs board game, a video game and then one day who knows, maybe even a Pencil Bugs movie! Over the holidays, O’Neill has decided to raise money for less fortunate children, donating teddy bears to children at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Forbes.com identified O’Neill as one of the Hot Role Models To Admire on their list of Top 10 Role Models 18 & Under.
When she was just 9 years old Alexandra McDaniel became the founder and president of Kid’s Roar a company entirely run by kids. The reason Alexandra started the company was because she wanted a horse and her dad told her that if she really wanted one, she’d need to raise the money herself to get it. Kids Roar has five different clubs (Safari Club, Marine Club, Horse Club, Best Friends Club and the Dinosaur Club) with various products, which can be found on the site.
Luke Underwood- McDonald’s Toys
At 11 years old, Luke has made £8,000 from the sale of his collection of McDonald’s memorabilia. The 7,000 items included posters, Happy Meal boxes, toys, limited edition cups and shop-front displays, all made between 1990 and 1999. The McDonald’s memorabilia was bought for Luke four years ago by his father Philip at a cost of just £250. After making such a huge profit, Luke knows he wants to be a businessman when he’s older. For now, he’ll continue to go garage sale (or car boot sale as it is referred to in the UK) hunting to get the best deals on items and sell them for more after.
Ashley Qualls- whateverlife.com
After seeing some of her friends personalize their MySpace pages, a then 14 year old Ashley Qualls had a million dollar idea- provide free MySpace layouts and HTML tutorials for her peers. Living in a one bedroom apartment with her sister and mother, her mother gave her $8 to buy a domain name whereupon Ashley created her first website whateverlife.com. Her site was soon generating traffic from over a million people a day. Her first Adsense paycheck was for $2,790, and in just three years she grossed more than $1 million. The website receives several times more traffic than circulations for popular teen magazines Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and CosmoGirl! combined!
David Wilkinson – Zi Media Network, Techzi tech blog
David Wilkinson’s love for computers and video games inspired him to begin his own technology blog at the age of 12. Though he wasn’t making much money from Adsense, a few months later, he branched out into affiliate marketing, which now brings him a steady income. He is also founder of the Zi Media Network (ZiMedia.net) where he will be launching several other blogs. He is currently spending all his time on launching Affiliate Defined: The Affiliate Marketing Revolution.