Want to become an entrepreneur? Start thinking like a teenager. As more and more people become entrepreneurs, teenagers all over the world have demonstrated that they, too, can take on the challenge.
From fun math games to handmade aprons, teen-founded startups are growing by selling on Amazon. The businesses’ young leaders have diverse backgrounds and skillsets, but they all share common characteristics: They are energetic, creative, and brave.
Read the success stories and tips from four teenage entrepreneurs on Amazon who are proving that age doesn’t matter when it comes to starting and running a successful business.
Sara Robinson, 14
Co-founder, Sara Sews
Sara started sewing eight years ago when her mother, a fourth-generation seamstress, taught her how. The mother-daughter duo turned their dining room into a makeshift production line for their shared sewing machine. For her first project, Sara sewed a simple dress for one of her dolls. She eventually sold other handmade doll dresses on Facebook, honed her skills, and learned how to sew aprons.
Now she’s part of Amazon Handmade, and the best sellers from her brand are the colorful aqua baking apron and the personalized encouraging words apron. Revenue from personalized aprons helped push Sara Sews to its most profitable year yet in 2020.
“I remember how exciting it was to join Amazon Handmade when it first launched. Amazon helped us get our products enrolled in Fulfilled by Amazon, so now we can focus on sewing and Amazon takes care of the shipping and customer service for us,” Sara said.
Tip: Sara believes that anyone who is willing to work hard and not give up when things get tough can become an entrepreneur. She said find people who encourage you and believe in what you're doing, and surround yourself with them.
Max Ash, 17
Founder, MAX’IS Creations
When Max’s second grade art teacher asked him to make a mug, he came up with a brilliant idea: attach a small basketball hoop for tossing marshmallows into hot cocoa.
Max’s parents helped him submit The Mug With A Hoop to a product innovation contest held at Fenway Park, and he was named a Top 10 finalist and community vote winner. The mug went into production, and he was named Chief Creator of MAX'IS Creations, the profitable family business he now runs with the help of his parents and older brother, Sam.
The business has over $2.3 million in Amazon lifetime sales. It has also donated more than $60,000 to dyslexia-related causes to help the roughly one in five kids like Max who happen to think and learn differently.
“I chose Amazon because it enables us to reach the greatest number of customers possible. Amazon also ships my mugs to customers all over the world, which would be difficult for us as a small family business to handle on our own,” Max said.
Tip: Max believes that aspiring entrepreneurs should start small and gradually expand their business. Amazon allows startups to easily start small and work their way up.
Henry Burner, 18
Henry overcame a learning disability and built a successful multimillion-dollar business before graduating from high school.
As part of a grade school assignment, he created individually designed buttons to trade with his classmates. His designs were a hit. He began selling them at local farmer’s markets with the help of his mother, officially launching his business, Buttonsmith.
In 2014, Henry moved online to sell his products through his website and Amazon. The product catalog grew to include buttons, magnets, lanyards, fixed top badge reels, and his newest product, Tinker Reel® badge reels, which have swappable tops. Henry has received a patent on the design.
In 2016, Buttonsmith began introducing custom Prime items on Amazon. These products are made and shipped at the company's offices in Carnation, Washington.
“By mid-2018, we had expanded the custom Prime offerings to several hundred items on Amazon, and were shipping products to customers all across the country. We love delivering personalized products to customers quickly, at the speed of Amazon Prime, with most orders being shipped the same day they are placed,” Henry said.
His business has grown to 13 full-time employees, and Henry has sold to more than half a million customers on Amazon. When the pandemic hit, Buttonsmith transitioned to making fabric masks that were sourced in the U.S. to avoid international supply chain issues. They quickly became one of the top five selling masks on Amazon for a time, boosting their Amazon sales to more than $5 million in 2020.
Tip: Henry believes that teenage entrepreneurs shouldn’t go into oversaturated markets and need to figure out what they can offer better than anyone else. He also believes that hiring professionals to handle legal and accounting issues is a good way to avoid making mistakes while building a startup.
Rachel Zietz, 21
Founder, Gladiator Lacrosse
Rachel Zietz founded Gladiator Lacrosse in 2012, when she was a 13-year-old lacrosse player and entrepreneur. Like all lacrosse players, Rachel wanted to improve her game—but she found limited options.
Her coaches advised her to practice her shot as much as possible—and to play “wall ball,” where players use a wall to practice shooting, passing, and catching. The idea for Gladiator Lacrosse came from Rachel’s disappointment with the quality, cost, and lack of selection of lacrosse products aimed at helping players develop their skills.
Rachel was personally involved in every step of the business, from the product concept to the selection of raw materials, as well as in the production and manufacturing of the her lacrosse rebounders and lacrosse goals. Her passion for the game is reflected in the product details, down to the packaging and installation instructions
“Partnering with Amazon has given the business the opportunity to grow nationally and internationally with Amazon customers. When coaches look to purchase lacrosse equipment for their fields, we stand out on Amazon for our competitive prices and outstanding quality. Amazon has been an incredible distribution channel for Gladiator, accounting for millions of dollars in additional revenue,” Rachael said.
Rachel’s sales on Amazon have grown each year by more than 20%. The company has been able to increase the product line from just a goal and rebounder to lacrosse balls, corner targets, goal blockers, and even the high quality All Ball Pro rebounder.
Tip: Rachel believes young entrepreneurs should pursue what they are passionate about. Practice makes perfect, she said.