How Entrepreneurs Under 18 Are Getting Funding

It is amazing how many successful entrepreneurs there are and some can’t even vote yet.  There are the young entrepreneurs who have gone to make millions of dollars while others are just starting out.  We take a look at a few notable entrepreneurs under the age of 18.

Mallory Kievman, CEO of Hiccupop (Age 13)

Everyone understands the annoyance that hiccups bring and thirteen year older Mallory Kievman set out to create a cure.  Today, she has developed a patent pending product called Hiccupops which is a combination of several different hiccup remedies.  Her concoction consists of a lollipop, sugar, and apple cider vinegar and is set to release this summer.  Kievman has worked on this for two years now and has enlisted several MBA students from the University of Connecticut to help bring life to her newly formed company.

So, how is Kievman getting this invention funded?  Well, it all started at the Connecticut Invention Convention she attended last year.  After winning awards for innovation and patentability, she met up with Danny Briere, founder of small business incubator Startup Connecticut, and several angel investors and state officials.

According to Briere,  “It’s very rare, when you’re evaluating businesses, that you can envision a company or product being around 100 years from now, Hiccupops is one of those things. It solves a very simple, basic need.”  Kievman and her family may have self funded the product in the beginning, but now she has a few investors helping her company grow.

Robert Nay, Creator of Bubble Ball (Age 14)

The mobile gaming industry has boomed over the last few years with new apps being developed everyday.  Anyone can create a mobile app with the right software and an aptitude for coding, which is what Robert Nay, a fourteen year old boy, did with his mobile game Bubble Ball.  ”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.  ”I came up with the idea for the game by myself, but it was influenced by other games I liked and suggestions from people.”

A month later, Nay had created his first mobile app with 4,000 lines of coding and launched it in December of 2010.  Then in January of 2011 it stole the #1 most downloaded free game spot from the mobile game ‘Angry Birds’.

Since then, Nay opened his own company, Nay Games LLC, and has been working on making Bubble Balls better.  In June of 2011, he launched the new version of his game, Bubble Ball Pro, which features 23 new levels for 99 cents.

How was he able to create Bubble Ball?  As a fourteen year old, it’s difficult to make money when legally you cannot hold a job.  To produce his app, he needed to purchase a Macbook and licensed software, which brought his startup costs to roughly $1,200.  His parents happily supported this and offered the $1,200.  Due to their support, Nay’s Bubble Ball app has reached over 12 million downloads since it launched in 2010.

What can you learn from these two young entrepreneurs?

  • Have a Feasible Idea: It’s ok to think big, but when it comes to getting funding sometimes you have to think about the feasibility of your product/service.  This means you may need to start small with your idea.  Wanting to open a 100,000 square foot retail company is very admirable, but you may need to start off with a 1,000 square foot business, until such time you can afford to expand or get approved for a large enough loan.  Kievman and Nay started extremely small, they started in their own home with no employees.
  • Take Your Time/Don’t Rush: Don’t rush through the planning of your business.  It is a very exciting feeling to start your own business and you may want to get to selling your products/services quickly, but you should not do it too quickly.  Take your time so that you know you have not missed a step and that you are prepared for anything.  Mallory Kievman tried about 100 different hiccup curing folk remedies until she finally got to her lollipop recipe.
  • Take The Necessary Steps: It is important for you to take all the necessary steps needed to open up your business and/or ask for funding.  You don’t to find out that you can’t get funding because you forgot to fill out a form or you don’t have the appropriate business licenses.  Robert Nay had to get his app approved by Apple before it could be launched and Mallory Kievman has filled out all the paperwork needed to patent her product.
  • Get Your Family on Board & Ask For Help:  What both of these young entrepreneurs had in common is that they had their family supporting them and giving as much assistance as possible.  They offered up their time and money to help their children reach their goals.  It may be necessary to ask for your family’s support with your business venture.  In this economy, lenders are more frugal and may not offer funding to a start-up or even a business expansion without a guarantee that they will get a return.  Mallory Kievman didn’t even ask for funding until she knew she had a patentable product to show them, now she has a few financial backers helping her mass produce her invention.

Comments

  1. Wow, I had no idea that Bubble Ball was invented by a 14 year old! Kids really have an advantage when it comes to innovation: they see things very differently from adults and have unique ways of approaching problems from a fresh perspective. Thanks for the article!

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