Who said you had to be 40 to be an entrepreneur?
The answer is nobody!
These next 10 high school entrepreneurs have shown that it’s never too early to pursue your passion. From tech startups to fashion clothing lines they have proven themselves to be savvy entrepreneurs.
1. Josh Feinsilber - 17 - Seattle, WA
Josh Feinsilber is the founder of Gimkit, a live quiz learning application that allows teachers to create “kits”. These kits quiz students and award them when they have learned and memorized concepts. The game allows teachers to track the progress of the class in real time with thousands of data points. The learning game has shown some good results: it increased test scores by 14 percent, twice as much as other educational games and students love the game.
Josh first came up with Gimkit when he was brainstorming for a new project. He stumbled upon Kahoot (another learning game) and improved on the idea and execution. His incremental innovations have led to Gimkit being used by hundreds of thousands of students across 100 countries.
Now that Gimkit has grown and taken off, Josh has employed other high school students to help run the EdTech application and to join him as high school entrepreneurs.
What’s next for Josh?
Well, for now, he wants to keep growing Gimkit and see how far the learning game can go.
2. Jeremy Miller - 19 - Indianapolis, IN
Jeremy Miller is a known marketing guru. In 2014, Jeremy, 16, started a skateboard manufacturing company, Void Longboards, after overcoming many years of heavy depression. While operating Void Longboards, he had explored social media to grow his company's brand online. After 8 months of testing different tactics and strategies, Jeremy had hit over 100M organic impressions on content. It was at this point that Jeremy realized his talents were best suited to marketing and advertising.
By 18 he grew a successful advertising agency with national clients, national partners, and dozens of press interviews including a Forbes #1 trending article on LinkedIn in December 2017. Jeremy is a shareholder at SnapShyft and was previously the Director of Marketing. Today, he is the CMO and a Board Member of an educational non-profit, The STARTedUp Foundation. The STARTedUp Foundation offers the first-ever high school student entrepreneur fund, a student entrepreneur accelerator, Student Innovation Nights, and freelancer boot-camps. The STARTedUp Foundation not only educates and equips high-school entrepreneurs but it is also a mental health play to support teen entrepreneurs struggling with mental health issues.
Professionals who have previously worked with Jeremy say he is “impressive”, “has wisdom beyond his years” and “extremely intelligent in understanding consumer psychology and human behaviors on social media".
What’s next for Jeremy?
Jeremy plans to continue expanding SnapShyft
3. Erik Finman - 19 - New York City, New York
Erik Finman started his entrepreneurial career in a unique way. He bought $1,000 worth of bitcoins when he was 12 years old. At 15 Erik sold $100,000 worth of bitcoins and used his earnings to start an online education business called Botangle. The platform allows students to find the right teacher for personalized one-on-one tutoring. Then teachers and students can online video chat allowing the educational experience to be highly personalized.
However, Erik is not your average young entrepreneur. He has a lively and eccentric social media presence. You can check out his Instagram and Twitter pages to see for yourself. He uses it to attract attention and PR from media and funnels this attention to other more meaningful areas.
But, that’s not it for Erik. He is also part of a NASA project which is currently working on launching a satellite containing a digital time capsule into space. The satellite will contain popular music and sounds from earth and a Taylor Swift CD. On top of the NASA project, Erik is working on a robot suit inspired by Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man. The suit was initially designed for a boy with hyper-mobility issues, however, there has already been some interest by investors to adapt the suit for various uses.
Erik is a real busy young entrepreneur!
What’s next for Erik?
He has been working on a big project to build a new physical school and to disrupt the American educational system.
4. Isabella Rose Taylor - 17 - Austin, TX
Isabella Rose Taylor was an artist before becoming a fashion designer and a high school entrepreneur. She said, “creativity became her outlet” and that it has helped her succeed in an extremely competitive industry. She is the youngest designer to have shown work at the New York Fashion Week. Isabella designed her first clothing line at age 11 and by age 13 had her own junior fashion line at Nordstrom, a Seattle based department store. To date, she is the youngest designer Nordstrom has ever carried.
If you thought that was enough, well it’s not. Isabella is collaborating with Pottery Barn Teen a home furnishing company. She partnered with the company in 2017 to create her own bedroom and studio collection which is inspired by her love of art.
On top of being fashionable and artsy, Isabella has brains. She has won the Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key Award and is a member of Mensa, a high IQ society. Isabella at the young age of 12 was already a college student at Austin Community College. Now, at 17 she is pursuing her second college degree (BSc in International Business from NYU). She decided to go back to business school after having faced problems with management and order processing when selling her clothing to large retailers.
What’s next for Isabella?
For now, Isabella is focusing on finishing school and continuing to expand her fashion line.
5. Rachel Zietz - 18 - Boca Raton, Florida
Rachel Zietz is the founder of Gladiator Lacrosse, a lacrosse equipment company who focuses on high-quality long-lasting equipment at reasonable prices. By the age of 15 and after completing the YEA! (Young Entrepreneurs Academy) program, Rachel had built a $1 million company. Projections for 2018 for Gladiator Lacrosse are $2 million. Rachel was recognized as TIME’s Most Influential Teens of 2016 and has appeared on Shark Tank and was a finalist for Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Entrepreneur Award.
What’s next for Rachel?
Rachel is now attending Princeton University and working as much as possible to grow her business. She is looking to expand product selection and continue her partnership with Case Powell an accomplished lacrosse player.
6. Anton Klingspor - 18 - Miami Beach, Florida
Anton Klingspor is the founder and general partner of Indicina Ventures, a startup incubator, and a venture capital firm targeted to generation Z entrepreneurs overlooked by other VC’s due to their age. Indicina Ventures looks more at merit than experience. Initially, Anton received funding for Indicina Ventures from family, with assets now totalling $53 million.
Anton didn’t dive directly into the venture capital business. Before starting Indicina Ventures he had created many side projects during school. By junior high, he had created a program with proprietary software that allowed people (for a modest fee) to cut the Adidas shopping cart line when buying Yeezy shoes.
Other projects by Anton:
Tenniscore a program that reviews and predicts WTA/ATP matches.
Faceblock is a web browser extension which blocks the ability of Facebook to collect data from users browsing history, what content they view, and what they do on sites other than Facebook.
Jam WIFI is a program for Mac OS X that allows users to disable and overflow wireless networks.
What’s next for Anton?
He is looking for partners to take over management of Indicina Ventures, so he can complete his lofty goal of finishing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just four years.
7. Zandra Cunningham - 17 - Buffalo, NY
Zandra got the entrepreneur bug at a young age. At 9 years old she started brainstorming ideas for a lip balm she could make herself after her father told her he wouldn’t buy her anymore. By the time summer rolled around she had realized she could make some money out of her new passion and started selling her products at local farmers markets.
Now at the age of 17, Zandra has rebranded her company to Zandra Beauty and now sells nationwide in stores like Whole Foods and Costco. Her beauty product line has also expanded to over 40 products and 5 scents, using mainly all natural and organic ingredients. She uses her business to help create opportunities for young girls and women all over the world through STEAM education and entrepreneurship.
Her drive goes beyond her business. She also has partnered with the Buffalo Public School System where she teaches 5 classes per week. She educates both boys and girls about skin care and what actually goes on their skin. Teaching them about the science behind skin care and what to look for in stores so students buy products that are healthy for their skin.
What’s next for Zandra?
Zandra plans to continue growing her business. Last year, Zandra Beauty was worth half a million dollars and today it has already doubled to over 1 million dollars. She also wants to keep the mission of her company the same - helping girls empower themselves and become teen entrepreneurs.
8. George Matus - 18 - Salt Lake City, Utah
George Matus is all about drones, and fast ones. At 12, George was already building drones and working with drone companies to build new innovative products. He wasn’t satisfied with the options out there. The drones available were slow and the quality of the camera lousy. So, at 16 he decided to make a “wish list” and make a drone which met all his requirements.
That is how Teal was born. Teal is a state-of-the-art drone which can fly up to 70 mph and has a built-in Nvidia computer capable of machine learning and image recognition. The Teal drones are a high-end product with a starting price of $1,300. The Teal One has been a proven success. The company now has 30 employees and has raised more than $16 million in venture funding.
His successes have not gone unnoticed. In 2015, George won the Thiel Fellow award which pays young entrepreneurs $100,000 to either drop out of school or forgo college to work on their entrepreneurial project. George was also named a Forbes 30 Under 30 member under the consumer technology list.
What’s next for George?
George is now working on drones for commercial applications such as supervising building projects, search-and-rescue operations, and even emergency services.
9. Ben Pasternak - 19 - New York City, New York
Ben Pasternak has been a busy teen entrepreneur. He has been such a big player in the tech industry that TIME named him one of TIME Magazine's Most Influential Teens of 2016. The Australian born Manhattan resident has been part of three big projects since turning 15.
He started off his entrepreneur career by creating two viral iOS games, Impossible Rush and Impossible Dial. Then he moved on to Flogg which was a social network for teenagers to buy and sell items. The app launched on April 13th, 2016 and was temporarily the No. 1 trending app in the USA, Germany, and Australia.
Flogg caught the attention of the venture capitalist firm Binary Capital which agreed to lead a round of funding for the company. This made Ben the youngest person to receive a round of venture capital in technology. Afterward, Ben co-founded Monkey with Isaiah Turner in 2016 raising over $2 million in venture capital. The app is a video chat service for teenagers and also peaked at No. 1 on the US iOS app store. Monkey has over 3 million users and over 1 billion calls to date. Ben and Isaiah decided to sell the app to rival app HOLLA to make time for a new project.
What’s next for Ben?
Ben will be going on a trip to India to “get inspired for the next project”. After he returns he will be doing what he does best: creating a new company.
10. Shubham Banerjee - 16 - Santa Clara, California
Shubham Banerjee saw a need that was not being met when he was 13 years old. He realized that the going rate for a braille printer was $2,000 and for most, this price point made braille printers inaccessible. He saw the need for visually impaired people to have braille printers at home. So, he created the world’s first low-cost braille printer out of a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit ($350) and some small electrical components. He called his printer Braigo combining the words “braille” and “Lego”. In 2014, Shubham became the youngest entrepreneur to receive venture capital funding for Braigo Labs Inc. thanks to an Intel Capital investment.
His company has gone a step further. Shubham’s dream is to one day have an ecosystem to help the visually impaired. For now, they offer various web-based services. For example, they have created an app (supports over 50 languages) where users can upload and print documents in braille and a community where users can share their documents for all to use.
What’s next for Shubham?
Shubham is currently developing Braigo 2.0 an updated version of the low-cost portable braille printer.