Jordan Daykin, aged 19
Hot tip #1: He got help from friends and family. He tweaked his product in the shed with his granddad and hired 11 of his friends, aged between 17 and 19.
Hot tip #2: He seriously believed in himself.
Ed Hardy and Kit Logan, aged 17
These best friends turned their passion for skiing into a business with the Edge skiing free mobile app, the “ultimate mountain companion”. Their first venture failed but then they got venture capital from a bunch of tech investors including Frank Meehan (who’s often backing young tech start-ups and also backed Spotify as well as being on the board for Siri).
Hot tip #1: It’s okay to fail the first time. Don’t give up. You can still try again with a fresh idea.
Hot tip #2: Get investors! If you’re a tech product, get tech investors. If you’re a catering service, get catering investors. Try googling for “investors” plus whatever industry your product or service sits in, and take it from there.
Dylan, aged 7
Dylan is so young he only gets a first name to protect his privacy! He hit fame by successfully Crowdfunding his Cracking Good Recipes book for charity. He only wanted £450 but he got £746 – that’s a 144% increase (if we got our maths right).
Hot tip #1: It sounds really cynical, but the younger you are, the more curiosity and interest there’s likely to be from the media and also from backers who are so glad that the children really are our future.
Hot tip #2: Start small, think big. £746 may not seem like a lot compared to Dragon’s Den money, but it was enough to get a project off the ground. It could be enough to start a business!
Jamal Edwards, aged 23 (but he started at 15)
Jamal Edwards is building his own media empire. When he was 15, he got a video camera and used it to film his friends rapping on the street. He uploaded them to his YouTube account in 2007 and got so many hits he turned it into a business, getting money from YouTube revenue for ads embedded in the videos.
He’s now worked with names like Nick Minaj, Drake and Jessie J. He has his own business, SB.TV. He’s an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and in 2013 he signed a deal with Sony RCA to have his one record label.
Hot Tip #1: Online platforms like YouTube and successful websites with lots of visitors can get you ad revenue.
Hot Tip #2: That good idea could be a hobby or activity you already do. It could be sitting right in front of your face.
Hot Tip #3: If you love doing something, keep going and someone might notice. In 2013, Miroma Ventures bought a share in Edwards’ company because they could see he was going places.
Nick D’Aloisio, aged 17
Nick D’Aloisio got capital venture funding before he was old enough to drive – when he was 17 and still at school. He used it to create a news-condensing mobile app called Summly, tapping into people’s need for lots of online info to be given in tiny bits and straight away. It went huge. He’s now friends with Stephen Fry and has been known to muck around with Ashton Kutcher.
It all happened because, when he was lucky enough to be given an Apple MacBook by his parents, he went to the iPhone App Store and asked the staff how he could learn to code his own apps. He eventually learned via free online tutorials (just like you could) and made a whole bunch of apps, each proving more popular than the last each time he put them on the iPhone app store.
Hot tip #1: Even if you get lucky with something, it’s down to you to take the next step and make your own luck
Hot tip #2: If you’re a tech-head, really explore that. People love technology and will pay big dollar for it.
Cara Evans, aged 14
Cara Evans of Llangefni, Wales, launched her own florist business, Blodau Cara, when she was a schoolgirl aged 14. She works from her family home’s garage. A year later, she gets so busy she’s twice had to close her Christmas order book because she had too many orders to meet demand.
How did it happen? She decided to enter an Under 21 flower arranging competition at Anglesey YFC’s county rally. She didn’t really know that much about flower arranging – she’d just picked up some tips from her grandmother. But she was so naturally good at it that she won. Not just that, but her win got her the attention of a local youth skills project (Llwyddo’n Lleol) which gave her a £1,000 bursary. She used the money to buy tools, stock and an iPad (she says social media has massively helped grow her business and it’s how she gets most of her orders).
And you know what? She’s still doing her GCSEs.
Hot tip #1: Get involved with life. Enter competitions. Take part in things. You never know where it might lead. You could discover a new skill or hobby. Your talent at an existing hobby could shine through and get you noticed.
Hot tip #2: Social media is free to set up and when you’re trying to drum up business it could make all the difference.
Nina Devani, aged 14
Luton schoolgirl Nina Devani, 14, got the idea for the Prompt Me Nina app when her dad’s Facebook account was hacked. It’s just really hard for people to remember loads of different passwords and they end up using just one, which isn’t very safe. Devani’s mobile app helps you come up with personal and personalised prompts for all your different passwords. Simple, but genius.
She sold it on the Android store but is working on an iPhone version, along with Mac and Windows versions she plans to sell to corporate and business users (now that’s a great idea for scaling up). She’s now seriously considering a move to Sillicon Valley.
How did Devani get the investment money? She met internet entrepreneur Suleman Sucranie through a school project and pitched it to him – and he invested £10,000 of his own cash in the idea.
Hot tip #1: Get deeply involved with any business-led school projects. Listen, ask questions, get talking. It’s not just a novelty school thing that gets you out of lessons. It’s business. It’s real research. It’s… networking.
Hot tip #2: We’ve said it before, but good ideas + coding skills = MONEY.