While most teens make money from summer jobs, some start multi-million dollar businesses. Companies born in dormitories or garages are now the figureheads of their sector of activity. From Facebook to Subway restaurants, here are some of the most popular businesses started by teenagers.
Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he started Facebook in his dorm room at Harvard.
While in his first year at Harvard University in 2003, Mark Zuckerberg created a website called Facemash, which compared photos of college students and their looks. Although the site was taken down, it led Mark Zuckerberg and some of his friends – Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCollum and Chris Hughes – to start The Facebook in their dorm. This social network has allowed Harvard students to connect online. He was only 19, but the young man had just created something that would forever change the way people communicate.
Today, Facebook is one of the largest social networks with 1.59 billion daily active users, and Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune is estimated at $ 79.5 billion (72.2 billion euros) , according to Forbes.
Like the creator of Facebook, Michael Dell started Dell Inc. in his dorm at the age of 19.
When a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984, Michael Dell began upgrading computers to earn money. That same year, he dropped out of school after earning $ 80,000 (72,600 euros) in computer sales. The young man then started working full time at his company, which was then called PCs Limited. He was only 19 at the time. Eventually, his company became Dell Computer Corporation, then Dell Inc. It became one of the leaders in the field of personal computers and is now worth 45.2 billion dollars (41 billion euros). Michael Dell, whose personal fortune exceeds $ 31 billion (28 billion euros), is still CEO of parent company, Dell Technologies.
Fred DeLuca opened his first Subway restaurant at age 17.
In 1965, then 17-year-old Fred DeLuca needed money to pay for his college and decided to start his own business. He turned to Peter Buck, a nuclear physicist and family friend, for a loan of $ 1,000 (900 euros). Together, they opened Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A few years later, the company was renamed Subway. The franchise quickly spread throughout the United States, until it became the largest fast food restaurant chain in the world. Today, Subway has 24,008 locations in the United States. Fred DeLuca was an executive at Subway until his death at the age of 67 in 2015, according to the New York Times.
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Matt Mullenweg started WordPress at the age of 19.
In 2001, Michel Valdrighi created a simple content management system called b2 / cafelog. Matt Mullenweg was hosting his own personal blog there when he expressed his frustrations with the technical issues. In response, he developed a new version of b2 / cafelog, which eventually became WordPress. The Houston, Texas native was just 19 at the time. Today, WordPress hosts over 20 billion web pages – and over 409 million people visit them each month.
At 16, Mike Kittredge started a candle making business that became Yankee Candle.
In 1969, 16-year-old Mike Kittredge began making and then selling candles to his neighbors for $ 2. As demand grew, the young man turned candle making into a side business he did in his parents’ garage and basement. In 1973, Yankee Candle was operating in a former Massachusetts paper mill. Mike Kittredge ultimately sold the company for $ 500 million.
The business he started as a teenager now has 500 stores and more than 19,000 retailers selling Yankee Candle products. Mike Kittredge passed away in July 2019, aged 67.
Catherine Cook started MyYearbook with her brother when she was 14. The company was sold for $ 100 million a few years later.
While in high school, Catherine Cook and her brother moved to a new town in New Jersey. In 2005, while thinking about how to meet people at their new school, they decided to start an online directory. MyYearbook really took off when their older brother decided to invest in the business. In the first week, 400 people signed up on the social platform and within a few months it had reached one million users. After six years of existence, the site had 32 million users for a turnover of 23.7 million dollars (21.5 million euros). In 2011, Quepasa acquired MyYearbook for $ 100 million (€ 90 million). The company has since been renamed to MeetMe.
Palmer Luckey created the first prototype of Oculus as a teenager.
Palmer Luckey first became interested in the world of virtual reality games at the age of 15. He built his own VR headset, called PR1, at the age of 17. It was the first helmet that managed to trick the brain, which then projects itself into another reality. It became the prototype of Oculus VR, the product of his lucrative business. At 21, he sold Oculus to Facebook for more than $ 2 billion (1.8 billion euros). In 2017, Palmer Luckey mysteriously left the company and Facebook to start a self-employed defense tech startup.
Original version: Frank Olito / Business Insider US