The 6 Youngest Entrepreneurs to Make It Big

By Damian Davila on 5 September 2014 2 comments

Kids these days.

…are super rich. Just when you think getting a job couldn't get any more competitive, a 17-year old invents a mobile application that Yahoo buys for an undisclosed amount. And he is not alone. Children and teenagers around the country are getting up earlier than ever to get that worm.

Here are six of the youngest entrepreneurs to make it big.

1. Ashley Qualls

Girls can code, just ask Michigan native Ashley Qualls. Back in 2008, at age 14 she started the website whateverlife.com to provide Myspace layouts and HTML tutorials for other teens. It all took off from there. Through advertising income alone, Ashley is able to make about $70,000 in monthly revenue from her 7 million monthly visitors. She has received several offers to buy her company, including one for $1.5 million, but she has turned all of them down.

2. Dave and Catherine Cook

Back in 1997, siblings Dave and Catherine (a high school junior and sophomore respectively) launched the social media site, MyYearbook.com. By being able to go head to head with titans such as MySpace and Facebook, the teen whizzes have received extensive media coverage over the years, including CNBC, Mashable, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. By 2006, the site had raised $4.1 million in venture capital funding and had 3 million members worldwide.

The original site has gone through several rebranding exercises and mergers, but Catherine continues to attract the media attention with her lessons on entrepreneurship and marketing.

3. Caine Monroy

Not all young entrepreneurs come from the tech world. Meet L.A. resident Caine Monroy, who at just nine years old became a successful business owner. Back in 2011, Caine spent most of his summer inside his dad's auto parts store building an elaborate arcade made entirely out of cardboard and tape. Almost the entire summer went by and he had yet to have a customer. Fortunately, his only customer came in the form of filmmaker Nirvan, who bought a door handle for his car and a $2 FunPass to Cain's Arcade. Nirvan was so inspired by Cain's entrepreneurship that Nirvan made a short film on Caine's Arcade. Through this film, Caine has inspired other kids to become owners of their own arcades, raised over $220,000 for his college studies, and become a TED speaker.

4. Maddie and Margot Bradshaw

Here is another pair of power siblings. At age 10, Maddie Bradshaw used $300 of her own money and started making and selling decorated bottle cap jewelry. Her entrepreneurship has turned her business into a national brand called M3 Girl Designs, selling 50,000 necklaces in less than two year's time.

Maddie's younger sister, Margot started designing bottle cap necklaces at age 6. Margot and Maddie's designs can be worn as charms on various accessories, such as necklaces and hairpins. Both sisters had a reported $1.5 million in sales and 25 people on staff in 2008. Maddie also authored a how-to guide for young entrepreneurs.

5. Hart Main

What started as a healthy sibling rivalry, turned into a full-on online business. In 2010, 13-year old Hart Main from Marysville, Ohio decided that there was a market for manly scented candles. He put $100 of his own money and his parents pitched an extra $200 to develop his candles, which include scents such as NY Style Pizza, Bacon, and Grandpa's Pipe.

As of 2012, over 25,000 ManCans have been sold in over 60 stores around the country. The name ManCans comes from the fact that the candles are developed on empty soup cans that have been first donated to a soup kitchen and then cleaned up for production. Due to the success of his manly scents, in 2013 Main expanded his brand of candles with SheCans.

6. Sean Belnick

What were you doing when you were age 16? If you were to ask Sean Belnick, he would answer that he made his first $1 million. Back in 2001, Sean and and his father jumped on the dotcom bandwagon with Bizchair.com, an online retailer of office furniture. Sean noticed that several middlemen would buy from his father's business and then sell those goods with a markup. So, Sean decided to cut all middlemen and sell all office furniture directly online.

Unlike other dot coms, the Georgia-based Bizchair.com weathered the storm and achieved $15 million in sales in 2005 and over $40 million in 2007. Bizchair.com's clientele includes the Pentagon, Fox's American Idol, Google, and Microsoft. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to start as early as possible, "I started when I was 14.There was a lot of great information on the Internet. Just do the research and find a way to do what you want to do."

Now if you excuse me, I gotta go Google how to sell manly scented tanning lotion.

Have you heard of other very young entrepreneurs? Please share in comments.

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Guest's picture

This makes me insanely jealous but kudos to all those kids. It makes my efforts to make a living on-line seem like (forgive the pun), child's play. Perhaps I'll have to leverage my son's brainpower once he gets older and see if he can come up with something as good as these ideas.

Damian Davila's picture

Tell me about it! I'm already making my 2-month-old babies watch Shark Tank.