1. Leanna Archer
Company: Leanna’s Inc.
Running a successful small business is hard. But these eight kid entrepreneurs are showing that it’s just child’s play.
Leanna Archer decided she wanted to become a hair care mogul at the ripe old age of 11.
”The idea came to me when I received tons of compliments about my hair and I knew it was thanks to my homemade products,” said Archer. ”I had nothing to lose, because I figured that if it didn’t work out I still had my whole life ahead of me.”
Archer’s company, Leanna’s Inc., makes eight organic, hair products, which include hair dressings, hair butters and shampoos. Her secret formulas have been passed down through her family for generations and are free of sodium lauryl sulfate and parabens, chemicals which are considered health risks. `’Our products contains no oil filters, no synthetic ingredients, no chemically-engineered ingredients,” she said.
Last year, the company had revenues of more than $100,000. The Long Island entrepreneur expects that number to increase to more than $300,000 by year-end. She is in the process of building an army of sales representatives across the United States.
Her advice to small business owners: ”All new entrepreneurs should know that mistakes are a big part of success.”
2. Robert Nay
Company: Nay Games
At age 14, Robert Nay’s first game, Bubble Ball, was downloaded more than two million times within two weeks of its launch.
Not bad considering that the average mobile game receives a few hundred downloads.In January, the game knocked the monster hit ”Angry Birds” out of the number 1 most downloaded free game spot in the Apple app store.
”My friends suggested I try making an iPhone app, and I thought it would be really cool and decided to give it a try,” said Nay. Without any previous coding experience, Nay went to the public library to research how he could go about building his game.
”I came up with the idea for the game by myself, but it was influenced by other games I liked and suggestions from people.”
One month later, after reading a few books and producing over 4,000 individual lines of code, Bubble Ball was complete. The total cost to produce the app: $1,200 — a sum given to Nay by his parents to purchase a new Macbook and the proper software licenses.
Available on Apple and Android devices, the puzzle game has been downloaded more than seven million times to date.
The eighth grader’s new mobile game development company, Utah-based Nay Games, is now working on ”some awesome new stuff for Bubble Ball,” as well as other gaming projects.
His advice to young people: ”You can do amazing things if you just try.”
3. Mark Bao
At 18 years old, New Yorker Mark Bao is a successful serial technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. The teen prodigy has sold three web companies, two of which Bao states were ”highly profitable.”
One garnered a quarter of a million subscribed users within three weeks of its launch. Bao has also started two nonprofit foundations.
His past ventures, all self-funded, included the viral hit, threewords.me, a social media site where visitors describe their friends’ personalities in three words, Atomplan, a small business management tool, and Facebook Idol, an ”American Idol”-like competition app.
”I’ve always been interested in technology and how it can make a difference,” said Bao. ”Entrepreneurial action creates change.”
His newest self-funded startup, Supportbreeze, is a customer service platform that helps businesses manage their support inquiries. The service dramatically cuts down on response time and manpower, said Bao.
”I needed a really good customer service application for my other startups, which led to the creation of Supportbreeze,” he said.
These days, Bao can be found splitting his time between building up Supportbreeze, attending college classes, and assisting his pals at the New York City startup, Onswipe, a tablet publishing platform that enables content publishers to beautifully display their media and advertising on touch devices without any programming knowledge.
”When you’re young, don’t fear failing,” he said. ”Whether you succeed or fail, the things you learn will be incredibly valuable for your future endeavors.”
4. Lizzie Marie Likness
Company: Lizzie Marie Cuisine
An aspiring chef since age 2, Lizzie Marie Likness is well on her way to becoming the next generation’s Rachael Ray.
At age 6, Lizzie Marie Likness yearned to take horseback riding lessons. She wanted them so badly that she offered to help foot part of the bill.
When her parents asked where she would get the money, she replied,”I’ll sell healthy homemade baked goods at the local farmer’s market.” From that moment on, Lizzie became the founder of Lizzie Marie Cuisine.
”Lizzie Marie Cuisine is unique because I teach kids how to have fun cooking healthy meals and how to live healthy,” said Likness. “My company teaches people that it’s not all about eating healthy, it’s also about living healthy.”
A few short years later, word about her original recipes and ability to empower young people had spread beyond her local community. She soon began receiving invitations to demonstrate her cooking prowess alongside celebrity chefs at major live events, such as Taste of Atlanta.
She also was asked to become a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s ”Go Red For Women,” campaign, and the Atlanta Falcons’s ”First Down For Fitness Program.” She also has appeared as a guest on the ”Rachael Ray Show.”
Today, Likness is the star of the WebMD Fit Channel’s series, ”Healthy Cooking with Lizzie.” She also just signed a branded entertainment and TV development deal with N.Y.-based production company, DBG, and global digital marketing agency, Digitas.
The mini-preneur, who hails from Georgia, expects to launch a series of healthy cooking cookbooks, packaged food products, and new digital media shows in the near future.
Her best advice: ”The greatest reward is doing what you love for the good of others.”
5. Farrhad Acidwalla
Company: Rockstah Media
With $10 from his parents, Farrhad Acidwalla joined the entrepreneurial ranks at age 13, when he decided to build an online community devoted to aviation and aero-modeling. Several months later, he sold the community to a fan for $1,200.
Four years later, he put $400, from the sale of his online community, into Rockstah Media, now an international, award-winning agency focusing on branding, marketing and web development in Maharashtra, India.
”In the future, we plan to diversify and scale up our business by producing Hindi language entertainment programs,” said Acidwalla.
Acidwalla said he keeps his 42 employees happy by offering them profit-sharing opportunities.
”Taking initiative is the most important step, so long as it is backed by hard work and dedication,” he said.
6. Asya Gonzalez
Company: Stinky Feet Gurlz
The daughter of two entrepreneurs, Asya Gonzalez wanted to follow in her family’s footsteps.
”I remember asking my Dad why my uncle couldn’t come with us on spontaneous trips, and he said because he works at an office,” Gonzalez recalled. ”I knew right then that I wanted to have freedom, make my own money and make my own rules. You can’t do that climbing the corporate ladder … as my Dad says.”
At 13, Gonzalez launched Stinky Feet Gurlz, a company that designs, markets and sells 1940s-inspired t-shirts and apparel.
Her company also donates a portion of every shirt sold to She’s Worth It!, a nonprofit organization she founded, dedicated to ending human trafficking and child sex slavery.
” ‘Buy a shirt, save a child.’ That’s our motto,” she said.
The company expects to make $20,000 a month beginning next year. ”Most adults like to help and give advice so be open to it,” she said. “And above all, have fun!”
7. Brian Wong
Two years ago, while traveling on long flights, Brian Wong noticed that many of his fellow airline passengers were casual mobile gamers, tapping away on their smartphones for hours at a time.
Shortly after, the former Digg employee began researching the market and devised a plan for a new gamer rewards platform.
Within a year of his ‘aha’ moment, he was able to raise over $4 million in venture capital for his company, Kiip.
”I’ve always had the entrepreneurial itch, but what got me the most excited was the opportunity to truly reinvent a space,” said Wong.
Less than two months old, Kiip is a mobile rewards network that offers gamers real rewards for virtual achievements, such as winning a coupon for a can of soda after getting a new high score or completing a difficult level.
With access to more than 15 million active mobile gamers and clients, such as Dr. Pepper and Sephora, behind him, the San Fransisco entrepreneur hopes to become the leader in ”moment-based advertising.”
His words of wisdom to other young business minds: ”You are the most powerful force in your own life, don’t let others set the rules for you.”
8. Adam Horwitz
Company: Yep Text
Since the age of 15, Adam Horwitz has had one entrepreneurial goal: create a million-dollar company by the time he was 21.
Three years and 30-or-so unsuccessful, self-funded web ventures later, he launched his first successful product, Mobile Monopoly. The online course teaches people how to earn money generating mobile marketing leads and earned Horwitz a six-figure profit.
Horwitz added several other online courses, each earning him six figures or more, and broke the million-dollar-revenue mark before his 18th birthday. His company Local Mobile Monopoly is a multimedia training platform that helps business owners.
”I just love being able to build a business and watch it grow into something huge,” said Horwitz. ”The journey is the most exciting part.”
His latest venture is YepText, a text messaging service that enables businesses to attract customer foot traffic to their locations by text messaging ads and promotions to their smartphones. ”The only other text messaging services out there were extremely complicated and targeted towards the Fortune 500 list,” said Horwitz. ”So we decided to go a different route and target the small business niche.”
Currently, Horwitz spends his days growing YepText, while working on several other ventures.
His message to other aspiring, young entrepreneurs: ”Anything is possible now, just make sure that you take action and never, ever give up.”