While some may say it’s never too late, for entrepreneurs it’s never too early. Brothers Adam, 35, and Matthew, 36, Toren, authors of Kidpreneur$: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas, started selling paper airplanes at seven and nine years old, and have only fueled their entrepreneurial spirit over time. Now the owners of two magazines, The Vancouver View and The North Valley magazine, as well as youngentrepreneur.org, the duo is looking to invoke the same passion they had and inspire kids across the United States.
“The philosophy behind the book is simple,” Adam says. “There are so many benefits for an early introduction to the infinite rewards of entrepreneurship.” According to the author, many children do not even know what an entrepreneur is. “At the age of seven, kids know about lawyers, doctors, and nurses,” Adam says. “But they have no idea what a small business owner is.”
The colorful book aims to make learning fun with quizzes and chapter-by-chapter instructions that show kids, ages 7 to 13, the basic principles of running a business, social responsibility, and an explanation of the economy.
To recognize some real-life rug rats with big ideas, we found some tri-state area “kidpreneurs” who are exploring and promoting their own business:
Current Age: 16
Age when business created: 12
Business: A&C Art Camp
Always inventive and independent, Alex Mancuso of East Northport, NY started planning her own birthday parties at age six. Once she reached 12 years old, she launched an art summer camp for young children in her neighborhood with her friend Chelsea Rom. They came up with a fee for the children, and used a portion of the money to buy art supplies, while pocketing the rest for profit. With a true entrepreneur’s mind, Mancuso conducted a survey after the first camp to see ways they could improve the following summer.
What does Mancuso accredit her go-getter spirit to? It’s just in her genes. “I really like to control things, and enjoy organizing things,” she says. “We both wanted to make money, and art is something I enjoy, so I figured it would be a good thing to do.”
Current Age: 15
Age when business created: 6
Business: Miss O and Friends
When she was six years old, Olivia Brindak from Old Greenwich, CT grew bored and dissatisfied with the dolls available to her on the market. So what did she decide to do? Create an online world, named after her, Miss O and Friends. With the help of her sister, Juliette, her cousin, Harley, and some friends, Miss O has grown to become a popular online site for tweens and teens that allows users to follow their favorite characters, dress them up, enter contests, get advice on boys, and more. Brindak and her mother, Hermine, designed the site while on a five-hour flight.
Today, The Miss O and Friends brand also includes a collection of books, clothes, apps for your phone through AT&T, and is still growing. They have partnered with Banana Republic to give girls the chance to experience what it’s like to be a fashion designer, and with American Dance Training Camps, to give a girl a free week of dance camp. Now, Miss O is a family-run business, with her father, Paul, as the CEO, and her mother, Hermine, as the President of Creative. Brindak continues to guide the company in several creative capacities, including the look and feel of the website, moderation of the Girl 2 Girl forum wall, game creation, and some designs for the clothing line.
Current Age: 16
Age when business created: 14
Businesses: eBayBen, an eBay selling company, and Ben-Lang.com, a website design and blogging company
White Plains–based teen, Benjamin Lang, saw a market for selling others’ unwanted items via eBay for commission after selling his grandfather’s camera equipment. A year later, he designed his first website, and he decided he could help others do the same.
Now, he’s full-swing into his eBay and website-design business, eBayBen, and he also started a popular blog, Ben-Lang.com, on which he sells advertising. For those young whippersnappers looking to start their own business, Lang says to get started early. “Get started as soon as possible because starting a business is a long process,” he advises. “Once you do start, ask advice from others, network, and promote yourself as a brand.”