Saturday, October 11, 2014

Teen Entrepreneurs

Lately, I've been addicted to the TV show Shark Tank. The premise of the show is that entrepreneurs pitch their companies and/or products to five "sharks," a panel of five potential investors. What has surprised me the most about the show are the teenagers who pitch their products and companies to the investors. Most notable are:

Henry Miller, who was sixteen when he appeared on Shark Tank, made a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec for his company Henry's Humdingers. Miller was offered $300,000 for 75 percent equity in his company. The deal eventually fell through, but what's important is that Miller had an idea that investors were interested in.

Carter Kostler, who was fifteen when he appeared on Shark Tank, pitched his product, The Define Bottle, a reusable water bottle that allows people to add fresh fruit to their water. Carter asked the sharks for $100,000 in exchange for 20 percent equity in his company. Robert Herjavec countered his offer with $100,000 in exchange for 40 percent equity. After trying to negotiate $100,000 for 30 percent equity, Kostler ended up leaving the show without a deal. Revenue from Carter's company was approximately $150,000 before going on the show; since being on Shark Tank, revenue has increased to over $225,000, according to an interview Carter did with Inside Business.

Then, I started thinking about other teen entrepreneurs I've heard about. The biggest name that came to mind is Bella Weems, who started a jewelry company called Origami Owl when she was 14 years old. She started the company to earn money to buy a car; in 2012, the company generated $24 million in revenue, according to an article in Forbes.

It's obvious that teens are creative, and that their ideas have the potential to be extremely successful. These stories started me thinking about how teens can be encouraged to take their ideas and try to build them into products and companies. The library has books that can help. The books listed are a mix of young adult books about starting businesses and adult books that provide advice and good information that can be applied to starting businesses and being a business leader.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life by Robert K. Cooper

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson

Know of any other good resources, books or otherwise, for teens who want to create their own products and businesses? Let us know in the comments!

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