One of the more refreshing news tidbits this year featured a 14-year-old who came up with an idea to save the U.S. government $136 million a year. Suvir Mirchandani, from Pittsburgh, figured out that changing the font used in government documents would save big bucks on ink expenses. By using his computer science smarts and his interest in the environment, he discovered that by simply changing from Times New Roman to Garamond, with its lighter character strokes, would help the Obama Administration free up some mega cash from the budget. It’s not a small budget either – they spend about $1.8 billion in printing annually.
With dedication, hard work and creativity exemplified in his phenomenally successful science fair experiment, Mirchandani may well be on his way to being his own boss – sooner rather than later. And he won’t be alone. The following list features 10 teens who are already CEOs of their own very successful companies. While the world watches, these savvy business owners are taking over with the fearless and intrepid attitudes exemplified in youth.
From bow ties featured on Shark Tank, to light-up flip flops, one YouTube sensation and a popular snow cone food truck, these kids aren’t letting the fact they haven’t even graduated high school stop them from conquering the corporate world.
10. Stefan Anderson – Aged 16
This 16-year-old upstart began a company called Hope Apparel, which is set to launch in 2014. His TedTalk features the young Anderson inspiring a crowd with his vision of peace. His company will channel profits into three charities; Hoops 4 Hope, FACE Children and Shelterbox. His advice for developing a business is simple: it starts with giving up video games. Once he freed up some of his spare time, he took the first steps towards developing a website, and with a total of 52 minutes and $23 his project began. He promotes the idea of business as a solution to social problems and in his talk he highlights the good that business does, with the hope of further encouraging the social responsibility mandate. In the US alone, last year, $53 billion dollars was donated by corporations to charities – up from 2012 and previous years. With Hope Apparel, Stefan hopes to add to this contribution and become a leader in corporate accountability.
9. Madison Robinson – Aged 15
What kid wouldn’t want a pair of light-up flip-flops? Apparently not many, because Madison Robinson is well on her way to being a millionaire with her company that offers exactly that. The teen from Galveston Island, TX, came up with the idea for her company, Fish Flops, when she was eight. Enlisting the help of her pops and some investment from friends and family, she managed to move from product sample designs to selling directly to retailers and local trade shows. These days, those retailers include Nordstrom and Macy’s. She’s even started to expand into the adult market, making the flip-flops exclusively for Macy’s women’s wear. She’s sold well over 60,000 pairs since she began, and at $25 a pair Madison is making some major pocket money.
8. Hart Main – Aged 15
ManCans are very masculine scented candles, and they’re a creation of one of America’s youngest CEOs. Hart Main, at 15-years-old, is already overseeing a 1000 sq/ft warehouse headquarters in Marysville, OH. Main gets some help from his dad, the company’s part-time COO, but Hart is the main man behind the wheel. He first revealed the ManCan on a late night talk show with Mario Lopez in 2011, delighting the audience with his novel scents like “Dirt” and “Fresh Cut Grass.” The company started out as an idea for a school fundraiser, when his sister wanted to sell traditional candles. Hart wanted to know why the branding was so feminised. His parents overheard this question and encouraged him to work on it so, like any fearless entrepreneur, Main ran with the idea and became an industry mogul before his 16th birthday.
7. Robert Nay – Aged 15
This year, young Robert Nay was featured in Forbes 30 under 30 for his mobile game app called Bubble Ball, which to date has over 9 million downloads. In its first two weeks it had more than one million, outperforming Angry Birds as Apple’s most downloaded free game. Robert, who programmed the game, had no coding experience before undertaking the app-development project and just spent some time at his local library learning what he needed to know. He then produced the thousands of lines of code necessary for his physics-based puzzle game. It took him a month, and now his company, Nay Games, has released 24 new levels for Bubble Ball in under a year. How does this translate in revenue? Well, he managed to bring in a cool 1/4 million dollars while still in Grade 8, so it’s safe to say he’s not relying on allowance money from his parents.
6. Skylar Bisel – Aged 15
Bizzy Fizz is a bath accessory company making bubbly waves for celebrity bathers and the whole business comes from the mind of a 15-year-old based in Dakota by the name of Skylar Bisel. The idea came from a science fair project when he became fascinated by the product’s chemical reaction, and ever since he’s been creating “bath candies” as the CEO, inventor, and creative director of his company. Since he’s still technically too young to own the business outright, his mom signs off on the paperwork. Skylar offers all-organic bath treats (some of which change the colour of the bath water), lotions and lip balms. Bizzy Fizz Bath Treats are sold online and at local retail locations, and this year was the second time Bisel was invited to produce the bath treats for swag bags at the Golden Globes.
5. Lizzie Marie Likness- Aged 14
Lizzie Marie Likness started out like many 6-year-old girls – she wanted to ride a horse, but in order to afford the hobby she had to make some cash. So, she started selling homemade goodies at the local farmer’s market. It wasn’t long before Lizzie’s passion for food took over and with help from her folks she has managed to build a healthy-cooking website with instructional videos for kids. By 13-years-old, she’d appeared on the “Rachael Ray Show.” These days, she hosts a popular WebMD video series called, “Healthy Cooking with Chef Lizzie.” With help from her manager, she’s also become the spokesperson for the American Heart Association and last year worked with NFL’s First Down for Fitness, a program created to encourage Grade 3 to Grade 7 students within the state of Georgia to take part in fitness activities, eat well and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
4. Jaden Wheeler and Amaya Selmon – Aged 12 & 13
It all started with a blender on a hot summer day in Memphis, TN, home to Jaden Wheeler and Amaya Selmon. This brother and sister team are now the youngest food truck owners in the state, and possibly, the US. The idea for sno cones, besides a way to stay refreshed, came as the result of wanting some extra spending money. The tweens were already fans of a sno cone shop several miles away so they rounded up some friends who stood around popular neighborhood streets with signs, encouraging customers towards their own little business.
Within two summers they’d made around $1000, enough for their mom to realize the kids needed help taking it to the next level. The truck had to be upgraded to food-truck safety standards, so they could be licensed by the Shelby County Health Department, and now they can be spotted out and about with their bright yellow exterior. Their truck, Kool Kidz Sno Konez, was purchased by their mom who saw the possibilities when her kids’ small business started to grow. Now stationed in parks around the area or at private events, their food truck offers traditional fast-food snacks like hot dogs and nachos, as well as over 20 sno cone flavours. These resourceful teens offer an oasis of sno cone respite, just in time for another upcoming summer in Memphis.
3. Moziah Bridges – Aged 12
Moziah Bridges was not like most 9-year-olds. He is one of the best dressed young boys out there, but his sartorial tastes proved challenging to whet; finding an on-trend bow tie with his flair for style was disappointingly difficult. So, he took matters into his own hands and, with the help of his grandma, learned how to sew his own. Soon, he was selling his bow ties on Etsy, and then in boutiques around the sourtheastern states near his Memphis home. He’s been gaining exposure from reputable arenas like “O” Magazine, GQ, Vogue and Esquire – to name a few. Now, at 12 years old, he’s earned well over $30,000 and was featured as an up and coming young entrepreneur by Forbes. His inspiration? He has said in an interview, “designing a colorful bow tie is just part of my vision to make the world a fun and happier place.” And he is doing just that; his “Mo’s Bows Summer Camp” program helps fund scholarships for kids to attend camps offering recreation and educational activities.
2. Remington Anne Smith – Aged 12
Better known as “Remmi,” this young CEO started her entrepreneurial career at just 9-years-old, when she saw the problem of obesity among her fellow youngsters and decided to get involved in a solution. She was always a great helper in the kitchen with her mom, and so she set off to create “Cook Time With Remmi,” a cooking show for kids with the simple premise of offering cooking instructions for simple, healthy meals. The show is broadcast locally, with ongoing discussions to take it national. In 2011, she was named Top 20 to watch by “The Century Council’s Ask.Listen.Learn,” making her the youngest of the group, among famous senators and athletes.
Her show’s popularity led to a spin off called “The Culinary Kid!” in a partnership with the Oklahoma State University Arts Program for a learning series. Each week, a local chef shows Remmi a new cooking technique as she takes the audience on a field trip through her experience with the culinary process. Most recently, Remmi filmed a cooking series for Sodexo which aired in 4000 schools to a total of three million students. She is currently Sodexo’s Youth Ambassador of Health and Wellness for North America. This summer will see her new cookbook, “Global Cooking for Kids,” hit the shelves. Look out Rachael Ray!
1. Caine Monroy – Aged 11
At only 11-years-old Caine is already a veteran business owner – a cardboard business – after a YouTube video two years ago went viral. The video featured a young enigmatic Caine, who sold $1 and $2 tickets to his very creative video arcade. This video was created with the goal of sharing Caine’s ingenuity and possibly helping to establish a scholarship for the boy by donation. The hope was to raise $25,000 at most.
The video of Caine’s Arcade amassed 1 million views in one day, and raised over $60,000 for his scholarship fund in only 24hrs. To date the fund has received $239,000 with over 8 million viewers of the film. After the initial and overwhelming response, Caine and his family, along with the video’s creator, decided to help start a nonprofit, to encourage the creativity and entrepreneurship of youth. The Goldhirsh Foundation stepped in to offer a $250,000 start-up grant and the result is the Imagination Foundation. Six months later, a follow up video post was launched as part of the Global Cardboard Challenge, inviting kids to create their own cardboard creations. 86,000 kids participated in the Challenge’s second year in 2013. Kids who’ve taken part have raised thousands for local charities and causes of their choice.
In 2014, the Global Cardboard Challenge hopes to engage even more kids, with the ‘day of play’ set for October 11th. Caine, meanwhile, is in middle school enjoying life as a regular kid and although “retired” from the arcade business, is already planning his next venture – a bike shop. Meanwhile, he continues to travel around the world when he can, to share his story and lessons learned. He’s given speeches for Google and the USC Marshall School of Business, where he was the youngest ever entrepreneur to present. He has also given a solo TEDx talk in NY, hosted by Chelsea Clinton. It’s a bright beginning for a young CEO who’s just getting started.