One interesting bit of news that really got my attention this week was that of Nick D’Aloisio, the 17-year-old millionaire (yes, millionaire at 17!), who sold his smartphone app called Summly to Yahoo for a cool $30 million!
It’s quite an interesting story actually: D’Aloisio started using the computer at 9, and began writing apps for smartphones (particular the iPhone and the iOS) in 2008 when he was 12 – back when the Apple SDK was made released to public.
D’Aloisio’s first ‘success’ with app development was an app called Trimit – an iOS app that would condense long text (such as articles) into a 1000, 500 or 140-character summary. The app was quite popular – so much so that Apple featured Trimit as one of the Features Apps on the App Store in July 2011 – and it helped put D’Aloisio’s name on the radar.
D’Aloisio was offered $300,000 in venture capital funding from a Hong Kong-based billionaire for Trimit. He used this money, along with the feedback and criticism, to redesign and essentially rebuild the app from the ground-up, and eventually re-launched it at the end of December 2011 as Summly – the app that has now made D’Aloisio one of the youngest millionaires in the world!
The Globe and Mail from Canada ran a cool story on the 17 year old’s rise in fame, as well as some startup advice offered by the young entrepreneur/ teenage millionaire. Worth a read!
Here are 10 young entrepreneurs, their stories, how they started off and how did they end up being millionaires at very young ages.
Makes for a very interesting read!
Cameron Johnson showed entrepreneurial instincts from a very early age, and all signs pointed towards him making it big in the future. When he was 5, he started selling vegetables to his neighbors. In 1994, when he was just 9, he launched his first business from his home called Cheers and Tears, a greeting card company. By 12, he was making more than $50,000-a-year!
He then bought 30 Ty Beanie Babies (which were extremely popular at that time) and earned 10 times that amount by selling them on eBay. A young Johnson – who was barely into his teens – saw potential, and turned this into a legitimate business by purchasing dolls at wholesale from Ty and selling them on eBay as well as his Cheers and Tears website.
Johnson then used $50,000 as seed money to kickstart his next venture called My EZ Mail, a confidential email forwarding service. Within months, MY EZ Mail was making Johnson $3000 in advertising revenue.
Johnson’s next project was called Surfingprizes.com, an advertisement service that put scrolling advertising on top of web browsers. Two things were particularly interesting about this service: (1) users of Surfingprizes.com received 20 cents per-hour to have the ads displayed on their screen, and (2) referral marketing was used to spread the word; users would get 10% of the revenue generated by each customer they referred to use the service.
At this point, a 15-year-old Johnson was making as much as $400,000 per month, and he was worth more than $1 million before he had even graduated high school!
Johnson started CertificateSwap in college, company which he later sold for a ‘six-figure amount’.
The guy is now 28 years old, and worth a few million!
Adam Hilderth is known for setting up a company called Dubit in 1999. This UK-based social networking website was an instant success, and put Hilderth firmly on the map and well on his way to success – not to forget earning him millions in the process!
Dubit Limited, a ‘Youth Marketing Agency’, went on to become on the most popular websites in the UK, and thanks to Dubit, Adam had made almost $4 million by 2005!
Hilderth is also the man behind Crisp Thinking, a company specializing in online child protection technology for ISP’s.
Hilderth was worth £2m in 2004 and today, a 28 year old Hilderth’s net worth is £25m – making him the 23rd richest young person in the UK! It was also predicted that Hilderth would be worth £40m by 2020.
Hilderth has also won many awards and achievements for the work that he’s done.
A 10-year-old Juliette Brindak came up with an idea of ‘Miss O and Friends’ when she was just 10 years old. Unlike just about every person her age, she used her entrepreneurial instincts to actually create something out of her idea, which is how Miss O and Friends came into existence.
‘Miss O’ was one of the characters from a series of drawing-based characters called the ‘Cool Girls’ aimed to be positive role models for young girls and teens.
Brindak created the characters herself, and spurred by their popularity, her family helped her with her venture – her mother, who was a graphic designer by profession, drew the characters, while her father, a business man, helped set up and look at the business side of things.
Brindak launched Miss O and Friends in 2005 based on the popular characters. The website is a ‘for girls, by girls’ website where girls can seek advice from a supportive community, and play flash games.
Books based on the Miss O characters have sold over 100,000 copies.
In 2008, Procter and Gamble invested in Miss O and Friends. The company was valued at $15 million!
In 2011, the site was ranked the third largest girls-only website! Today, the website generates 10 million monthly visits – which is 20 times the traffic it generated when it was created.
A now-23 year old Brindak, who remains the CEO of the company, uses different methods to keep on top of what tweens are looking for today, and makes it possible for girls to see their favorite celebrities and musicians play live by offering all-expense paid trips for them!
In 2004, a 14 year old Qualls had a million-dollar idea (quite literally) when she started a website called whateverlife.com.
Originally what was just a website she started from her basement as a hobby, where she put up pictures and graphics that she created, Whateverlife.com turned into a website that provided free MySpace (remember MySpace?) layouts and HTML tutorials to tweens – a demographic that made up a huge proportion of MySpace users back then – where they could learn about coding and get cool designs for their social profiles.
All tutorials and layouts were free, and advertisements were the sole source of revenue for the website.
The website started receiving a ton of visitors, and several times more traffic than popular teen magazines such as Seventeen and CosmoGirl! In fact Whateverlife.com was such a massive success that by 17, Qualls was a millionaire!
One of the truly amazing aspects of Qualls’s story and her journey to becoming a millionaire at just 17 years of age is that unlike many other millionaires out there – and indeed some of those on this list – Qualls didn’t actually sell anything!
Since the inception of Whateverlife, the young entrepreneur, who’s now 23, has turned down several offers for to acquire the company, including an offer of $15 million as well.
Magennis started a web designing businesses when he was just 14 years old way back in the 90s. The teenage entrepreneur taught himself how to design and build websites, and started selling it as a service on the internet for a few bucks. His work was so good however that word got out and soon enough, Magennis went from building websites for $15 per site to as much as $30,000!
By the time Magennis was 16, business was good, so good in fact that he was already worth a million dollars!
His web development and marketing company was designing websites for many fortune-500 companies during the dotcom-boom of the 90s, and it was during this time that Johnson was also nominated for an Entrepreneur of the Year award.
The great thing about Magennis’s idea was that he started his business from his bed room with almost no initial investment, and today, his website earns him an annual revenue that goes into millions!
Today, a 32 year old Johnson is accredited as a reality TV producer, professional speaker and an entrepreneur, and also has his very own IMDB page. He has worked in all aspects of reality television production including development, casting, production and post-production, on shows such as Celebrity Apprentice and The Bachelor to name just a couple. He has produced shows in nearly every U.S. state and in some of the most exotic locations around the world.
Horwitz was 15 years old when he started 30 websites within a span of 3 years. None of those websites were successful, and didn’t make Horowitz a lot of money.
That however did not deter Horwitz’s desire to find online success and create a multi-million dollar online company by the age of 21.
Horwitz started Mobile Monopoly – an online course that taught people how to earn money by generating mobile marketing leads. He was able to sell this for a six-figure profit!
Staying true to his desire to show people how to do business and make money, he then started a few other similar websites that provided online courses, with each of them selling for a 100,000 or more.
Horwitz was worth a million before he was even 18!
He started Urban Stomp, a website with location to parties in certain areas (and a place where he posted music). The site made a healthy profit through affiliate links, before eventually becoming a victim of its own success: Urban Stomp drove 800 people to a single party and hence had to be shut down.
His latest venture is called YepText, a text-messaging service that allows businesses to attract traffic to their locations by sending text message-based ads and promos straight to their cellphones. Unlike other such services out there, YepText targets small businesses rather than large corporations.
Koon is a Chinese-American entrepreneur who was worth a cool million dollars when he was just 16, thanks to his NYC-based auto-parts business called Extreme Performance Motorsports.
The idea was simple: Koon would purchase wholesale car parts from Asian auto-parts suppliers on wholesale prices, using his own savings, and partnered with a local mechanic to upgrade or ‘bling out’ the cars using upgraded parts, installing better engines, premium sound-systems, luxury finishing, and much more.
Soon enough, word got out and Koon’s version of ‘Pimp My Ride’ became so popular, he was worth a million dollars at 16!
That wasn’t enough for this young entrepreneur. Koon started an auto parts manufacturing business that supplied parts to niche markets.
In 2008, he teamed up with rapper Young Jeezy to become an exclusive partner in his clothing line, which is when Koon himself successfully ventured into the fashion industry.
Today, Koon’s company called Tykoon Brand Holdings owns and operates several extremely successful brands across the world, including the Asian-inspired streetware label, Private Stock Denim.
Dikman showed extraordinary entrepreneurial skills from a very early age. He successfully sold lemonade when he was as young as 5, making $22 an hour. When he was 10, he was making $74 per hours – which was exactly $74 per hour more than other kids his age – for doing magic shows at birthday parties. During this time, he also started investing in stocks.
Dikman hit it big when he was 15 when he started a computer supply business called CoolTronics.com. The purpose of the website was providing online-safety lessons to computer and internet users, and tutorials on how to get rid of viruses or upgrading a PC. CoolTronics also branched out into selling computers by setting up and delivering them to customers.
In 2001, a 17-year-old Tyler – who was still in high school – was making a million dollars in sales, as well as through subscriptions and advertising. His company is still doing great.
He was Businessweek’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25.
Tyler also has the popular site Redux to his name.