In a story today called Welcome to age of business minors; Entrepreneurs still in high school by Carolyn Y. Johnson / The Boston Globe. The Grand Rapids Press. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Sep 10, 2007. Pg. B.4, we get some profiles of startups with very young founders, still in their teens or younger.
Here are some of the key points...
"Zaid Farooqui cofounded Web design company Cyquester Technologies and hired an employee in India for $400 a month -- when he was in the ninth grade."
"Steven Bao sold a Facebook program to a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and started the Facebook Developers Meetups in Boston this summer, while reading "The Grapes of Wrath" for 10th grade honors English."
There have always been ambitious young entrepreneurs -- Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University to build Microsoft, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin left a Ph.D. program at Stanford University to launch Google.
But thanks to cheap bandwidth, online advertising, broadband access and the ability to spread ideas through blogs or social networks, even younger people with little funding and few connections have been starting Internet-related companies in recent years.
"In the old days, the entrepreneurial avenues that were open to you could have been a paper route, mow the lawns in your neighborhood or have a lemonade stand," said Lee Lorenzen, chief executive of Altura Ventures. Altura bought Bao's application, which allows people to post virtual badges on their Facebook profiles showing they have iPhones. The company had to add an extra line in the purchase documents so his parents could sign for their underage son."
Entrepreneurs who launch companies in puberty are anomalies, but the Web has lowered the bar for people with skills and ideas. People don't need a development team or a big budget -- they just need a good idea and a laptop.
"The cool thing is it's becoming more and more common," said Farooqui, 20, who spent the summer in Cambridge working on iJigg.com, a music-ranking Web site that boasts 10 million song plays each month, and is moving to Silicon Valley to seek financial backing with his 25-year-old brother and co-founder Shadab. "Doing an Internet startup is like having a band -- that's my basic theory. Everyone will have them because, more than anything, it's fun."
At the technology conference TiEcon 2007 in Santa Barbara, Calif., the chief executive of Elementeo, a company that makes a game involving battling chemical elements, took the stage. Anshul Samar, 13, hopes to make $1 million by eighth grade.