Web Savvy Kids Cash In

 - Oct 10, 2007
References: ameinfo & guardian
The web is one of the greatest equalizers in business today. For the first time in history, age is irrelevant to success in careers.

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook when he was only 19, inspiring thousands of other young entrepreneurs to enter the world of business 2.0. Companies were fast to adopt younger generations into their business plans, recognizing that they had the knowledge key to keeping up with competitors. Tables are turning now, however, and investors are growing concerned with the number of teens and young adults in positions of power.

"'People like Mark Zuckerberg show that there is great talent out there ... but there's a world of difference between a teenager and a young entrepreneur,' said Sayula Kirby of Index Ventures, which has backed a large number of European internet startups. "I wouldn't say we are in a bubble yet, but we are getting closer to the point where the froth begins,'" the Guardian reported.

The attraction to web savvy youngsters isn't just their knack for all things web 2.0, but also their innate ability to know what teens and young adults want. Who better to pitch a product for teens, than a teen himself?

But what teen? Can any young person with applicable knowledge start a multi-million/billion dollar business? How do investors know?

There are several problems with running a business when you're that young, one of them being that many still live with mom and dad.

Two years ago, Detroit native Ashley Qualls founded Whateverlife.com when she was just 15. She racks in $70,000 a month, but still has to live under the same roof as her mom, who she's actually recruited to work for her. Technically, she owns the house, but she was "ruled as too young to control her substantial assets by a district court," until her 18th birthday. Intrigued? Check out this Fast Company interview with Qualls. You can also check out a video interview of her at the bottom.

Look at PPLparty, a social networking site for people who love the nightlife. The UK site was founded in 1995 to connect over 400,000 "party people" by teenage entrepreneur, Calum Brannan. "We are party obsessed, hugely committed and on a mission to create the ultimate social networking story within the online space, both in the UK and internationally," the site says. What they don't say is that they're "On the verge of securing a funding deal worth £250,000 and is also competing for up to £5m in funds from British venture capitalists." We know that thanks to the Guardian.

But how can someone under age found a community for clubbers? Somehow he found a way. "At least now, since I turned 18, I'm actually allowed into the venues I'm doing deals with," he said. Although he's legal now, it's still not easy.

"Being a young entrepreneur, everybody is ready to help you out," he said. "But conversations with my bank manager have been very different than they might have been if I was older - after all, I can't ask for a business loan because I haven't even got a credit rating."

They get even young. Would you take business tips from someone in grade nine? Ben Casnocha pitches his advice on running a company in his book, My Start-up Life, which chronicles his journey of young entrepreneurship -- he founded a software company when he was only 14.

The internet is the great equalizer, the web doesn't care what race you are, or what your educational background is. All the web cares about is content, so regardless of how young or old you are, the internet could be the vehicle to fame and fortune for any age group.