The online world offers amazing opportunities to make your fortune. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and an original idea. You might think it’s so easy even a child could do it… and in fact, they do! Right here we’ve got ten kids who made a million online by the time they were 20 years old. Try not to go green with envy…
10. Anand Lal Shimpi
In 1997, when he was just 15 years old, Anand Lal Shimpi started the website which would eventually become AnandTech. At first, his reviews of computer hardware were hosted on a simple Geocities page, but soon he was juggling high school, a girlfriend, and his own booming review site. Manufacturers began clamoring for his opinion and would deliver hardware to Shimpi’s family home, eager for the publicity a review on anandtech.com would generate. At just 17, his site was so popular that his advertising income was rumored to be approaching $1 million by industry insiders, but Shimpi – perhaps wisely – kept the details close to his chest.
9. Cameron Johnson
By the time he turned 11, Cameron Johnson already had a few thousand dollars in seed capital, which he’d accrued from Cheers and Tears, the greeting card business he’d started at the tender age of nine. Soon after his 12th birthday, he was using that money to buy Beanie Babies in bulk, selling them on eBay for a massive profit. By 13, he had $50,000, which he used to create My EZ Mail, an anonymous email forwarding system. Some kids would have been happy with the $3,000 a month My EZ Mail was bringing in, but not Johnson. Partnering with two other teens he entered the online advertising business, giving users pennies for the inconvenience of seeing ads in their browser and charging advertisers much more than he paid out. At the age of 15 he was getting checks for up to $400,000 dollars in the mail, and by the time he graduated high school he had more than $1 million in assets.
8. Adam Hildreth
In 1999, Adam Hildreth set up Dubit Limited. The UK teen was just 14 years old when he launched the social networking site. For the first two years he tried to juggle school and the rapidly growing social network, working on the site in his bedroom at weekends and in the evening. By the time he was 16 Dubit was so successful that he chose to leave school to focus on his burgeoning career. Offering social networking to teens and market research to companies, his website took off in a big way. By the time he was 19 he was worth $3.7 million. He’s not all about the money, though – these days he channels his expertise into software that helps to protect children from online predators.
7. Ephren Taylor
The precocious Ephren Taylor started programming at the age of 12 – after all, if you can’t afford the latest video games, why not just program your own? He began selling copies of his new game to his friends at $10 each. At 13 he began a web-designing business, using the anonymity of the web and his naturally deep voice to disguise his tender years. When he was 16 he and a friend built GoFerretGo.com – a jobs site for college and high-school students. Soon enough, Taylor had made his first million. The dot com bust of 2001 led to the demise of that company, and he moved on to running a socially responsible investment firm. Taylor’s reputation, however, has recently been tarnished with accusations that he ran a Ponzi scheme that targeted churchgoers.
6. Michael Furdyk
Toronto-born Michael Furdyk created MyDesktop, an online technology magazine, when he was in his early teens. Noticing the poor quality of other sites he remarked “Rather than complain, I create.” While the site became quite popular, Furdyk and his 18 year old business partner (whom Furdyk had met in an online chat room) were worried about the idea of trying to raise venture capital at such a young age. In the end, he sold MyDesktop for over $1 million – not bad for a 17 year old. One of Furdyk’s main frustrations with finding success at such a young age was having to take taxis to business meetings because he was too young to hire a car. He is currently a director of TakingITGlobal, a global youth-focused community that seeks to change the world for the better.
5. Chris Phillips
In 2002 the tech bubble had just burst and Chris Phillips was still a teenager. Some people might have thought it foolish to start a web company, but Phillips was undeterred. He decided to set up Dot5Hosting, his very own hosting and e-commerce business. Two years later his success was such that he had reached number 13 on the list of the UK’s richest teens, just a few places behind Kiera Knightley and England soccer player Wayne Rooney. In 2004, at just 17 years old, Phillips had earned close to £2 million, all thanks to his own efforts.
4. Juliette Brindak
Juliette Brindak was worth a whopping $15 million before she was even 20. How did she do it? Well, starting early certainly helped. She launched her website Miss O and Friends when she was just 10 years old. She also had a perfect understanding of her target audience: the site was aimed at tweens like her and her friends who, while bored with dolls, still weren’t quite ready for Britney Spears. With games, celebrity gossip, quizzes and a wealth of other features, the site sees hundreds of thousands of girls flocking to it every month. In an interview Brindak admitted that juggling her school work and the website was at times overwhelming but, with a lot of careful time management, she made it work.
3. Matt Wegrzyn
These days, an online presence is invaluable for a business of any size. A good domain name is a vital acquisition, something that Matt Wegrzyn got wise to early on. This whiz kid was computer literate from a young age, and managed to turn the need for a snappy domain name into cold, hard cash. He’d purchase names, optimize them, then sell them on for big profits. He started at the age of 15, buying a domain for $120 with money borrowed from his father’s PayPal account, and promptly selling it on for $500. In one interview he mentioned buying a domain for just $4,000 and selling it for a six figure sum – a pretty impressive profit in anybody’s book. In 2007, at just 19 years old, he was already sitting on a cool $1 million. Not bad for a little bit of savvy speculation.
2. Catherine and David Cook
Fifteen-year-old Catherine and her 17-year-old brother David came up with an idea for an online, interactive high-school yearbook. With a helping injection of cash from their big brother they set up MyYearbook.com in 2005. When some interested potential investors pushed for ads on users’ pages and for Catherine and David to move the company to New York, the siblings held firm – they wanted to stay with their family. It seems they made the right decision: a year later they had $4.1 million in investment capital and soon the site had 3 million members, with annual sales figures reported to be in the seven figures.
1. Adam Horwitz
After starting 30 websites over 3 years, most of us would probably give up. Yet it was after (maybe even as a result of) all these failures that Adam Horwitz finally made it big. In 2010, at the age of 18, he had made six figures from products like Cell Phone Treasure, a course which teaches teens how to make money with cell phones, before coming up with a new product that made him an astounding $1.5 million in just 3 days. Persistence clearly pays off! Despite investing in an Audi A5, Horwitz didn’t let success go to his head too much: at 18, he was still living at home.