Whoever said that wisdom comes with age never met our nine teen entrepreneurs. These young men demonstrate that you don’t have to be a certain age to come up with a good idea or change the status quo. You might want to share this list, plus our Design9 on inspiring teenage girls, with your favorite Generation Z’ers (yep, Generation Z is a thing) to show them the power of dreaming big.
1. Kelvin Doe
This Sierra Leone inventor first became interested in engineering when he was 11 and would scavenge for scrap electronic parts. By the time he was 13, he was repairing radios and built himself the equipment to go into business as DJ Focus. Today this self-taught engineering whiz speaks at MIT and Harvard, spreading the message that no obstacle is too big to tackle.
2. Jack Bonneau
The iconic lemonade stand continues to create budding business leaders, and Colorado’s Jack Bonneau is the latest. At only 9, Jack decided that opening a lemonade stand at his local farmers’ market would result in a greater return than opening one in his neighborhood. Today Jack’s Lemonade Stands sponsors kids with their own stands at other markets, teaching them about financial responsibility, communication and math.
Most boys don’t like to wear bow ties, but they might reconsider if it would earn them the notoriety that Moziah has gained since the launch of his Mo’s Bows business and subsequent appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Since the show aired in 2011, Moziah, 12, has grown his business and brand to the point that national retailers carry his products. Mo has also become a role model for other fashion-savvy kid entrepreneurs.
4. Nick Mares
Instead of joining a frat and going to college football games, 19-year-old Nick Mares decided to shelve the college experience and start Bone Broths Co. with his brother Justin. Their grass-fed organic bone broth is shelf-stable. Nick and his brother are passionate about healthy eating and the nutritional benefits of bone broth, and they endured many challenges finding an appropriately certified co-packer for their on-trend product. Such lessons can’t be learned in the classroom. Now backed by Mark Cuban, Bone Broths Co. is set to launch in Whole Foods soon.
When Matthew decided to address the bullying that his younger brother was facing, he didn’t think that it would lead to a nationwide public service announcement campaign picked up by the Disney Channel. This Arizona teen and his The Be ONE Project has brought awareness to the effects of bullying in middle schools by educating students and adults on the benefits of community building and the power of peer-to-peer inclusiveness.
6. Jonny Cohen
In seventh grade, Jonny had the idea to increase fuel efficiency in vehicles by affixing an aerodynamic device on top of school buses. Version 4 of his design has improved gas mileage on buses by 10 to 20 percent, and though the product isn’t ready for market yet, it’s proof that ideas and solutions can stem from anyone at any age. Currently, Jonny is a student at Columbia University, where he continues to work on GreenShield and other environmentally focused solutions.
At 12, Jaylen started an IT consulting firm. In less than three years, his business was valued at $3.5 million. Now 17, Jaylen runs his company, The Bledsoe Global Group, and tours the country motivating other teens and promoting his newest venture, The Young Entrepreneur University. These digital programs and camps aim to educate minority students on entrepreneurship.
8. Jason Li
This Silicon Valley native founded iRe Tron Inc. when he was a high school student and witnessed his peers upgrading their gadgets and mobile devices without regard for what would happen to the old units. He started iRe Tron to provide an environmentally friendly way to dispose of their old devices. Now that he’s at the University of Chicago, Jason has founded UProspie, an Airbnb-type startup that connects college prospects with current students.
As a savvy teen, Jared’s first business venture was a marketing consulting firm that targeted companies looking to market to his demographic. Soon after, he became a popular speaker. Since then, he’s gone on to co-write the recently released “2 Billion Under 20” with fellow millennial Stacey Ferreira. So far, Jared’s taken two gap years before starting college, and he finds networking and developing relationships with fellow teen entrepreneurs a valuable tradeoff.