What was your first job? As teenagers, many of us started babysitting for neighbors or taking on a newspaper route. These gigs tend not to be so glamorous — but it’s not like a kid can just sprint into their dream job, right?
Well, these young entrepreneurs did just that. Starting their own businesses from scratch, they’ve made some brilliant innovations and have earned themselves nice, fat paychecks. The craziest part? Most of these CEOs aren’t even old enough to drive!
1. Mikaila Ulmer: How does a 12 year old make an official appearance at the White House? For Mikaila, it all started with a bee sting eight years earlier. While other kids would’ve cried and run away from any bees after that, she took an opposite approach.
Me & The Bees
Mikaila learned as much about bees as she could! When she found out their population was dwindling, Mikaila opened a lemonade stand to raise money for bee-related charities. Thus, Me & The Bees was born. And her honey-flavored, all-natural lemonade was delicious.
Facebook / Me & The Bees
The lemonade was so good, in fact, that Whole Foods decided to stock many of their stores with Mikaila’s product. She became a millionaire at age 11! Of course, she still donates a large share of the profits to all kinds of agricultural and charitable organizations.
2. George Matus: During his early teens, George became a huge drone enthusiast. When he grew frustrated about the limitations of most models, however, he set out to create his own — one that could outclass any other drone on the market.
Years of tinkering resulted in his company, Teal Drones, putting out some of the fastest and most durable products on the market. George’s drones can reach a speed over 80 miles per hour and can withstand winds of up to 40 miles per hour.
In 2015, George won a $100,000 Thiel fellowship, which allowed him to skip college and go straight into business. Since then, Teal has recorded over $3 million in sales and put itself at the forefront of the cutting-edge drone industry.
3. Noa Mintz: Passionate about helping out younger kids, Noa started some summer art classes in 2008. These went well enough that by the time she turned 12, Noa wanted to take her business to the next level.
Facebook / Nannies by Noa
Because so many families in her New York City neighborhood needed babysitters, she started Nannies by Noa. Business boomed, which led Noa to hire 75 employees and bring on an older CEO so she could complete all her homework.
Now with hundreds of clients at its disposal, Nannies by Noa is doing quite well. Its founder since enrolled at the prestigious Brown University, where Noa will no doubt learn how to make her business even more successful.
4. Moziah ‘Mo’ Bridges: While he was a sharp-dressed man from a young age, Mo often had trouble finding accessories — particularly bowties — that matched his style. His grandmother, a retired seamstress, suggested that he should just make his own.
After brushing up on his sewing skills and investing in all kinds of fabrics, he founded Mo’s Bows. The little company took off faster than expected. He received a mentorship offer from Daymond John of Shark Tank and got an interesting offer from the NBA in 2017…
Facebook / Mo’s Bows
The league said they would give Mo a seven-figure deal if he supplied players with bowties for press conferences. He accepted, and the company is doing better each year. Mo’s certainly made his grandma proud!
5. Mia Felber: Just how much did Mia love dogs? Browsing through her local pet store in Akron, Ohio, she became concerned that many goods contained harmful toxins. Mia wondered why more natural pet products weren’t for sale.
When she couldn’t find any, Mia established Paleo Pets. Her company partners with local suppliers to make all-natural medicines, grooming tools, and animal beds. Best of all, there are no nasty chemicals in sight!
With the help of her parents, Mia has expanded Paleo Pets to a nationwide brand. She’s gained a lot of fans through her canny social media presence, and CBS has featured her as a promising young entrepreneur.
6. Shubham Banerjee: While brainstorming an idea for a science fair, Shubham learned that fewer than 10% of blind Americans can read Braille. Stunned by this fact, he pondered whether there was a way to make this language more accessible.
The average Braille printer cost about $2,000, but Shubham bet he could build one for a fraction of the cost. Over the course of several weeks, he set out to perfect his prototype — using an advanced Lego kit!
Sure enough, it worked! His printer, under the moniker Braigo Labs, can take any online text and translate it to Braille in seconds. Best of all, the Lego device is portable, meaning that visually-impaired people can bring it anywhere!
7. Rachel Zeitz: Although Rachel was a lacrosse nut, she often felt unsatisfied with the quality of equipment for sale. Wasn’t there a way to get long-lasting gear that wouldn’t break the bank?
Facebook / Gladiator Lacrosse
Rachel’s parents loaned her $30,000, which she used to found Gladiator Lacrosse. Her products really impressed the sporting goods world. She even made an appearance on Shark Tank, and while she didn’t make a deal, it turns out she didn’t need one.
In 2016, Gladiator racked up over $2 million in revenue, and it’s only gone up since. Rachel has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and TIME Magazine. Florida Governor Rick Scott even rewarded her with the Young Entrepreneur Award.