Unless you are Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, or Jeff Bezos, the dream of becoming a young boss is rarely achievable. Forget about the juicy startup stories of 15 or 16-year-olds who own "empires" and pocket millions in a month. The reality is that most of us have to toil to make it. We have to work our asses off because starting a business before graduating high school is no child’s play.
While grownups continue to grapple with the idea of acquiring riches, some teens have made fortunes and have joined the millionaire’s club. Strangely, some of them have acquired wealth through the most ridiculous ways known to man. Regardless, they have transformed into full-time entrepreneurs who have excelled based on some of the weirdest reasons.
They have used their brains to make an income in the most innovative ways. In fact, they have, somehow, managed to build remarkable businesses in the midst of the hype, noise, and glamor that is often associated with becoming an entrepreneur
Under normal circumstances, we expect teens to spend most of their time in entry-level jobs, honing their work skills. But these young men and women have proven us wrong by doing things differently. They have managed to stick to their goals and vision. They have managed to differentiate themselves from other businesses, and have consistently provided value to their customers through innovative products and services.
Some of them have used controversy to gain fame, and have been rewarded profoundly. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day; business is business.
The one thing that we can learn from these teens is that there is no minimum age for wealth. Most of them have earned hundreds of dollars even before attaining the legal drinking age.
15 Benjamin Kickz - The Sneaker Empire
His real name is Benjamin Kapelushnik, but he is commonly referred to as Benjamin Kickz on the Internet and social media. When you Google his name, you are likely to find pictures of a high schooler sandwiched in piles of sought-after sneakers.
Benjamin is only 16, but he does not need to introduce himself around celebrities. He has gained a reputation as a trusted online seller for various big sneaker brands like Nike and Adidas. He supplies sneakers to hundreds of celebs including DJ Khaled, Kevin Hart, and Travis Scott. He brushes shoulders with tons of other A-list celebrities who mostly include pro-athletes and rappers.
His love for sneakers started at a young age, and that is what inspired him to get into the reselling business. He regularly finds a way to get new releases earlier, then resells them for a profit. Sometimes, he’ll hoard shoes until they can fetch a high profit before selling them.
When he first proposed the idea to his parents, they thought he was out of his mind, but they later appreciated his knowledge when his pockets started deepening. Some critics claim that DJ Khaled brought him all the fame. It doesn’t matter because now he has regular customers who are mostly high-profile individuals. Khaled is one of Benjamin’s regular clients and is occasionally spotted on his Instagram feed.
Despite all the fame, he is still a highschool kid who still struggles to find a balance between two worlds. Benjamin claims he’s made almost a million dollars so far from sneakers. He still plans to go to college then hopefully open a chain of retail stores.
He firmly believes that he is going to make $1 million in sales this year from his website sneakerdon.com.
14 Danielle Bregoli - Cash Me Ousside
She is famous for her catchphrase “Cash Me Outside,” and is now an infamous meme for threatening TV personality, Dr. Phil.
Her mother had brought her to Dr. Phil to show the world how her young girl was stealing her credit cards and money. Danielle had a terrible attitude and was also ill-famed for posting racy and inappropriate photos on social media. The show went south when she threatened the audience with her catchphrase and rudely told Dr. Phil that he was nothing.
After the episode, she became an Internet darling, and people started using her phrases everywhere: on Twitter, Facebook, and in the offices. The phrase could easily be found on stickers, memes, t-shirts, hoodies, and even on blankets that had the teen’s face on them. Bregoli saw an opportunity and started to capitalize on the viral video. She began selling merchandise on a Shopify site, but things did not go well when she was accused of copying logos.
When she came back to Dr. Phil’s show in 2017, after reportedly spending time in a treatment facility, Danielle was still the same old rascal. She had not changed, and she openly admitted that she was responsible for making Dr. Phil famous. After that, her popularity increased further, and she started receiving contracts to do paid Instagram posts for companies like Fit Tea and Postmates.
Today, she has over ten million followers on Instagram. Her posts have become lucrative, and she reportedly makes appearances in shows for a cool $30,000. Bregoli even charges more to meet her fans – in meet and greets and music festivals. There are claims that she has made over $300,000 after the latest Dr. Phil appearance in February 2017. Bregoli has even been featured in Kodak Black’s music video, titled “Everything 1K,” where she can be seen flaunting cash unapologetically.
The only good thing she is done is turning an embarrassing situation into a livelihood for herself and her mom. Otherwise, she continues to excel as a professional brat.
This 14-year-old has probably not touched a million, but that is likely to happen by the end of 2017. On July 13, 2017, Bregoli posted a photo of her and Kim Kardashian at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills. Kim is known for hanging with only the rich and powerful; so, it is safe to say that Bregoli’s career is headed in the right direction.
13 Farrah Abraham - From Teen Mom To Adult Star To Multimillionaire
She may probably be the richest teen mom in the history of teenage mothers. She made her television debut in 2009 when she was interviewed to appear on MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. The aim of the show was to get an inside look at the lives of several teen moms and how they handled the stresses and pressures of motherhood. In the program, she mostly spent her time raising her daughter, Sophia Laurent Abraham, whom she had when she was 17.
After her first appearance on the show, Farrah realized that she could delve into several other things to make more money. She went into singing and released an album. Farrah went ahead to market herself into the successful multi-million mom she is today. She still appears on the sequel show Teen Mom 2 which follows up on the lives of the former 16 and Pregnant girls. The publicity from television opened new avenues, and she started receiving invites to speak at different events. She has also appeared in other TV shows like Celebrity Big Brother. Farrah even wrote a book titled My Teenage Dream Ended, which reportedly earned her about $1Million.
However, what stretched her net worth was her infamous adult video that was shot in 2013. The video, entitled Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom earned her over $2 Million, and there are reports that it still makes her money to date. The film was converted into a book and a chain of sex toys.
Farrah has mostly made money through appearance fees and endorsement deals. Today, she travels the world and has invested in several real estate properties around Los Angeles, Austin, and Texas. She has also had several costly plastic surgery procedures because she has the cash. She has a brand of Italian sauce called “Mom and Me,” which she co-owns with her mother. She also owns a yogurt shop in Austin called FroCo Fresh Frozen.
She is notorious for starting stories about herself to gain attention and has even called herself a “bad mom” in the past. Her critics have occasionally condemned her for behaving like a teen even though she is now an adult. Today, her acting career and modeling gigs are her primary sources of income. By 2017, it was rumored that she is worth $5 Million though the figure is disputed.
12 Aaron - Making Money Off The Dark Web
For security reasons, this 19-year-old New Zealand teen is only referred to as Aaron. He makes money from the Internet by engaging in several illegal activities. There are rumors that he makes up to $5,000 NZD a week, mostly by using stolen credit cards. Apparently, he uses the cards to buy digital gift cards then sells them on the dark web for a lesser amount.
Aaron owns an Audi A5 and lives a lavish lifestyle that most teens only dream of. He books five-star hotels and throws huge parties with free alcohol. According to him, failure to make his first million by age 18 took a toll on him and encouraged him to be more "aggressive." He still thinks that he has not achieved what he wanted and hopes that his income can grow to $50,000 a week in the next two years. His goal: becoming the millennial Jordan Belfort.
He revealed that he entered into the world of racketeering after purchasing shoes from the dark web and selling them for a huge profit. Aaron immediately knew he was going to make so much money from the Internet’s underbelly. On top of his illegal businesses, Aaron owns and operates a legal e-commerce store, which he claims is mostly a cover up that only makes around 2-5 sales a week. He then lies to people that he makes thousands of sales per week when asked where all his money comes from.
Aaron lives a debauched life and has even managed to hire employees remotely. He claims he does not rip off everyday people, but his primary targets are banks and retailers. He may be New Zealand’s Wolf of Wall Street.
11 Matt Wegrynz - Made Millions Off Website Domains
He had a genuine desire for the Internet as early as age 15 and became a developer for the ColdFusion website. While working there, he faced many issues and challenges as a developer. However, these hurdles motivated him to form ideas such that by age 17, he had already started his journey as a domainer.
He began by buying the domain of forums and is presently still the owner of bodis.com. At first, Wegrynz faced the challenge of attracting investors who would loan him money since he was a teenager. In fact, in the early days of bodis, his parents were his sole source of credit. He started with money borrowed from his dad’s PayPal account. He would buy a domain for $120 then sell it for $500. He at one point purchased a domain for only $4,000 then sold it for a six figure. By 2007, he had already touched his first million. And by that time, he had already started Bodis.
Today, his domains go for up to six figures. He mainly helps with buying, selling, and parking domains. In fact, some of his past domains include Gary.com, VD.com, Luci.com, Arlene.com, and Valerie.com among others.
Wegrzyn has previously been asked how he managed to be successful in this field, and his answer was constant dedication and research. He spends countless hours researching domains and talking to potential buyers.
10 Mike "Timex" McDonald - The Poker Star
Mike started playing poker in Grade 11, and he used to make some decent money out of it. His parents, Rick and Patty, have confessed that he had an affinity for card games and was also good at math.
Over the years, Mike has received the necessary support from his family. In fact, his dad, who was also a poker player, had been encouraging him to take chances in life. But he admits that he owes most of his skills to a man named Steve Paul-Ambrose who taught him most skills when he was only 16.
He began with the absolute bottom stakes at 1c/2c then proceeded to $5/$1 limit. He later found other tournaments and won the Paradise Poker $100,000 for $23,000 before graduating from high school. He continued to excel in online poker, achieving huge scores on a regular basis. He became a role-model to young players when he won a European Poker Tour at only age 18 in 2008. He was also the youngest winner.
Mike has admitted that he does not like spewing cash and always watches his spending. When asked about his Lamborghini, he admitted that he bought the car after playing the Epic Poker event in September 2011. He did his research and bought the Lamborghini Gallardo Spider in 2012 because he was satisfied the car would not depreciate substantially. Mike also owns a condo and some rental properties. But he mostly does not like expensive items when compared to most poker players. The Waterloo-native once retired from poker only to return because the poker lifestyle gave him true freedom, he claimed.
In 2014, McDonald almost became the first two-time EPT champion at PokerStars Caribbean. He finished second and earned slightly over $1 million for his work. As of February 2015, Mike’s total live tournament winnings were more than $11,000,000.
9 Jordan Maron - Video Games Made Him Rich
He has made a career from making commentaries on online video games. Maron is a gaming enthusiast who has had an interest in gaming from a tender age. This is what drove him into starting his own YouTube channel named "CaptainSparklez," which became a huge success and changed into his nickname.
He had started making enough money from his channel to live by himself by the time he was completing schooling. He was even able to pay his college education.
He has mostly been making unique commentaries on Minecraft games, and this has earned him enough authority as a video gamer. He has done collaborations with some video game companies like Waglington, OMGitsfirefoxx, and Project Syndicate, which have worked with him to develop new games and gaming technologies.
His YouTube Channel had a total of 9.8 million subscribers by early 2017, and he has already accumulated more than 2.6 billion views since he published his first video in 2010.
Today, he is a video gaming star, and his fame has risen based on a couple of consultancy and advisory positions. He has even started a mobile gaming franchise that has already released a game called Fortress Fury. He spends hours recording himself playing, and it is alleged that his YouTube channel is worth an estimated $16 million. Maron originally started with a channel called prosDONTtalkSH*T before seeing the potential in Minecraft. The move was so successful that he dropped out of a chemical-engineering degree to focus on streaming games.
Today, he is only 23 years old, and there are reports that he has bought a hilltop mansion for $4.575 million.
8 Maddie Bradshaw - The Lucrative Bottle Cap Jewelry Industry
Maddie Bradshaw was once the president of a company that sold more than 60,000 necklaces a month and made an annual revenue of around$1.6 million. The company was called m3 designs.
It all started when Maddie was only ten years old and was eager to decorate her school locker. Since she couldn’t find anything original or interesting, she decided to use Coke bottle caps that she had received from her uncle. She put magnets on the bottle caps, and her decoration was so outstanding that her friends wanted her to make them something similar.
Their requests gave Maddie an idea: to design necklaces using bottle caps and call them Snap Caps®. The new brand had different themes, from fairy tales to music stars. However, its main aim was to capture and celebrate every girl’s personality. She took some of her pieces to a local toy store, and they were sold out in less than two hours.
She immediately knew she was onto something. Maddie had made her first million by the time she was 13 years. She had been working closely with her sister, Margo, who was the vice-president. They even added a new line of necklaces for older teens called Spark of Life. Their mom Diane was the CEO and was responsible for all the finances.
Maddie even published a book titled You Can Start a Business, Too, because she was getting so many emails from girls who wanted to start their businesses. Her work has appeared on Shark Tank, and The View, and she has also been featured on the Teen Choice Awards.
However, M3 Girl Designs started facing trouble when it began filing lawsuits against different companies. The Bradshaws were claiming they were the inventors of the bottle cap jewelry, something that did not go well with most people. The verdict did not favor them, and the company has gone silent since then.
In fact, their last Twitter activity was around June 2014, and their website disappeared mysteriously. The girls could not handle the pressure and decided to close their shop, but at least they had made some millions.
7 Gary Martin - Teenage Property Business
At only age 15, Gary Martin was asked by a relative to run a bar and nightclub. Before he was even involved in the nightclub business, Martin had been baking cakes and selling them door-to-door at around ages 12-13.
Martin accepted his new role and used the money he had made to move into the property business by the time he was 16 years. By around age 18, Martin had already earned his first million as he was a shareholder in a multi-million property portfolio and was already worth $20 Million.
He made plenty of money during the bubble in Irish property and was lucky enough to get out in time. He later moved to London in 2009 and established Martin Construction. Martin has even been featured on BBC’s Million Dollar Intern whose contestants try to support struggling businesses. Gary has confessed that his most admired businessman is none other than Donald Trump. He is only in his 20s and already has a multi-million company under his name while he also runs several other enterprises that make millions.
6 Courtney Stodden - Married A Man 34 Years Her Senior
Courtney has been in the media since she was 16 years old after she controversially married a man who was older than her by 34 years. Courtney tied the knot with Green Mile actor Doug Hutchison, who was 50 years old while she was only 16.
Ever since the marriage, the couple has experienced ups and downs and have been severely criticized for the controversial matrimony. Their questionable marriage led to a split in Doug’s family and caused Doug to be disowned by his family, leaving him with nothing besides Courtney. Surprisingly, Krista Keller, Courtney’s mom, was in support of the wedding. However, Keller later regretted her move, claiming that she takes full responsibility because she is the one who signed the paper that approved the marriage. The couple separated in 2013 but got back together in 2014.
Apparently, the two had met in a chatroom and Doug was already struggling with two divorces and alcoholism. After knowing each other for a while, Courtney’s mom surprisingly consented to the marriage. It was probably the best thing for fame hungry Courtney.
Courtney is a typical attention whore, and her critics often reprimand her for her blatant attention-seeking behavior. A number of times, people have complained about her attire and her fakeness (fake nose, fake boobs, fake hair, and fake lips). Courtney and her hubby have mostly been doing several interviews that have brought them big bucks. Marrying a man who is 30+ years older has brought Courtney the best life she would ever imagine. It has brought her fame and money.
5 Abbey Fleck - A Stroke Of Genius While Makin' Bacon
It was back in 1993 when Abbey Fleck – only eight years old – became famous for the “Makin’ Bacon” tool. The invention became very helpful when cooking bacon because it allowed bacon to be cooked in a position that prevented it from coming into contact with its grease.
Abbey and her dad had been cooking bacon in the microwave when they ran out of paper towels to remove the oil. Abbey came up with an idea to hang the bacon strips like laundry so they would get rid of the fat. Abbey and her dad then made T-shaped racks made of plastic hangers and wooden dowels and attached them to a plastic plate. Somehow, it worked!
Abbey’s invention was finally welcomed by Walmart, and this is how Abbey got on the path to millions. The “Makin' Bacon” had been a success because it was able to solve a problem that most bacon lovers had been dealing with. The first tool was a prototype made using wooden dowels and plastic coat hangers, but Fleck’s family knew their daughter had created something unique.
When they first presented the idea to K-mart and Walmart, they were rejected, but they managed to strike a deal with the Armour Bacon company. This is the company that made the product famous, and shortly after making an appearance on The Oprah Show, Abbey was called by Walmart, and the rest was history.
In 2016, “Makin’ Bacon” grossed $800K. However, the business has been struggling with Chinese counterfeiters lately. Abbey is 33 years old today, and her invention is facing stiff competition from fraudsters.
4 Fraser Doherty - His Grandmother's Jam Recipe
At only the age of 14, Doherty began using his grandmother’s recipe to make a homemade jam. His first clients were mostly neighbors (around Edinburgh, Scotland) and friends from church. By the time he was 16 years old, he had tweaked the recipe and had already created a huge demand for the product, which he started to call “SuperJam.”
The jam was only made of fruit and fruit juice, and orders started coming faster than he could handle. Business went so well that Doherty decided to quit school to concentrate on his new venture. In fact, at certain times, he had to rent a factory to meet his demand.
In 2007, he approached a reputable supermarket chain in the United Kingdom who agreed to stock his products in all their 184 stores. He took a loan of about $9,000 and covered all the production and operation expenses. He was able to supply different flavors, including cranberry and raspberry, rhubarb and ginger, and blueberry and blackcurrant.
By 2009, he added Asda Walmart to his list of clients and sales hit $1.2 million. His other client was Morrisons and Tesco in Ireland. Fraser went ahead to publish a book that he called The Superjam Cookbook that is on sale on Amazon. He has a charitable project called SuperJam Tea Parties. His other investments include Beer52 and Envelope Coffee.
3 Cameron Johnson - Designing Invitations Started It All
His parents may have opened a unique path for him when they asked him to design invitations for an upcoming holiday party. Fortunately, people were impressed with his work, and he started receiving design offers from around the neighborhood. It was 1994 and Johnson was only nine years old.
By the time he was 11, he had already pocketed thousands of dollars from “Cheers And Tears,” which was his line of greeting cards. He was not yet done. By age 12, Johnson offered his sister $100 for her collection of Ty Beanie Babies. He then sold all the dolls on eBay making ten times the amount he had spent. He had seen potential, and he began contacting Ty to purchase the toys at a wholesale price. His aim was to sell them on eBay and his Cheers and Tears website.
He was also involved in other small business, including My EZ Mail, a service that forwarded emails without revealing the recipient’s private information. He was intelligent enough, and he used the money he had made to set up an online business, SurfingPrizes.com. He set up the company in 1997 together with other teens.
The site reportedly earned him $300,000 – 400,000 per month, and before he even graduated high school, he had amassed a net worth totaling an estimated $1 million. At age 19, he went ahead to sell the company and software, but he retained the customer database he had built up.
Later, after only a semester as a freshman at Virginia Polytechnic, Johnson was involved in another business called Certificateswap.com, but they later sold the business in 2004 for an undisclosed six-figure amount.
Today, Johnson spends most of his time lecturing about entrepreneurship. He is also involved in a number of TV programs.
2 David And Catherine Cook - An Online Yearbook
David and Catherine Cook are siblings who became millionaires after they created an online version of the traditional high school yearbook in 2005.
The duo began going through the local yearbook to see if they could recognize any of the students at their new school but were shocked that the information they found was not helpful. The disappointment motivated them to create an online version of a yearbook called MyYearbook.com. Catherine was more devoted to the idea yet she was only 14 years old.
They had an older brother named Geoff who had been successful with his startup, and they sourced some $250,000 from him for their new site. When their brother got on board, they looked for developers – from Mumbai – for their site. Both Catherine and Dave would spend hours chatting online, and by April 2005, they launched the bare-bones site. They did some crazy marketing, and after only a week, 400 people had signed up already.
Within the first year alone, they managed to register an estimated 950,000 new members. Since then, their business has continued to grow. By mid-2006, myYearbook had one million users, and by 2010, the site was making $23 million in revenue with its anti-Facebook model.
In 2011, it merged with Quepasa in a $100 million deal with $18 million in cash and the rest in stock. The site has not been ubiquitous outside North America, and its founders thought of changing the name to MeetMe. Catherine now works full time at myYearbook as she and her brother wait to be inducted into the elite league of millennial Internet moguls.
1 Tyler Dikman - A Computer Repair Business
At only age 10, he had dismantled his first computer, a Gateway, to study it inside out. As he acquired more knowledge about computers, he began performing repairs for his teachers in only eighth grade. This gave him the idea that he could charge for repairs and he introduced a $15 per hour rate, while he was only in eighth grade.
Dikman later got a babysitting job for Malcolm Taaffe, the Vice President of Merrill Lynch. Taaffe was impressed with his services and offered him an internship, which became a full-time job in only two weeks. He was in charge of computer acquisition, training, setup, and troubleshooting.
This is how Dikman found himself on the path to millions, and it all started when he established a computer repair business called Cooltronics. He had begun this company as a hobby and hired a few friends as employees. He managed to nurture the business into a one-stop company for computer clients.
He was once named by Businessweek as one of the top 25 entrepreneurs under 25. Dikman had aspired to run his own business from the age of five. He had been involved in various activities like lawn mowing, a magic show business, babysitting, and lemonade stands, before he finally settled on Cooltronics.