August 24, 2013

10-Year-Old Entrepreneur

Since childhood, I’ve created things and built businesses (in the loosest definition of the word). My entrepreneurial efforts didn’t make me a teenage millionaire but these experiences at a young age provided so much more.

  • At age 10, I purchased candy vending machines, placing them near the entrance of my father’s video game store. Every week after Sunday’s sermon, I picked up my earnings, counting quarters and entering my revenues/expenses into a spreadsheet on my grandfather’s hand-me-down Macintosh.
  • In the late 90’s I created and sold my own video game handbooks for a mere 50 cents each. They were clumsy, stapled sheets of paper filled with cheat codes and walkthroughs unabashedly taken from But they sold in a time when few people had access or knowledge of where to find this information.
  • Curious to learn web development, I set out to create a funny jokes and comics website. I called it, OperationLaugh. Built over several weeks, I launched the hideous, neon-green site to monetize on day one. I included an email subscription option for my visitors and (with disclosure) sold each email address for 25 cents. In the end I profited a whopping $15 after hosting and domain registration fees.
  • As a penny-pinching high schooler, I frequented SlickDeals and FatWallet searching for steep discounts and price-matching loopholes for various electronics. This treasure hunt turned into an eBay business where I bought and sold over $150,000 in merchandise, profiting the (very small) margin.

None of these “businesses” made me rich but they provided far more value in other ways. As a young child and nascent teenager, these projects provided hands-on entrepreneurial experience, an understanding of business economics, the importance of $1, and a basic understanding of web technology.

I owe much of this motivation to create and build to my father, an entrepreneur, hustler, and long-time business owner. Through his actions and advice, he enabled and encouraged my entrepreneurial experiments. I am hopeful other parents provide their sons and daughters with the same support and opportunities my father gave me.

“There’s a time to earn and there’s a time to learn.” - Mark Suster (This Week in Venture Capital)

And there’s no better time than during childhood.

What inspired your first entrepreneurial venture? Let me know on Twitter (@rrhoover).

Next week I will share my (more mature) process for turning ideas into startups. Subscribe to my email list for updates.

Photo credit: Charlotte.Morrall

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