Global business is powered by the hard work and creativity of young entrepreneurs. The energy of youth keeps industries from stagnating by constantly finding new ways to disrupt the status quo. An ever-changing world demands forward-thinking solutions. Young people are perfectly suited to keep up with technology and create a future in which anyone with a dream can achieve success.
Whether starting a meta-enterprise that helps other young entrepreneurs or building a major beauty brand, here are just a few of the hottest, most innovative young entrepreneurs to watch.
Like many Gen Z’ers, Kenan Pala wanted to do something to help his community. By age 12 he had already led a group of students in creating a Guinness World Record while simultaneously donating to a local food bank. Yet he found that when he tried to volunteer with official charities and organizations, he was held back by age restrictions. Many volunteer groups would only take adults age 18 and older. That’s when he started Kids4Community – at 13 years old.
Kids4Community’s mission is simple: engage kids in community work to instill a lifelong love of volunteering. Anyone age 5 and up can volunteer at one of Kids4Community’s events, such as cleaning up beaches or assembling care packages for areas in need of disaster relief. With Kids4Community, Kenan helps families serve their communities together.
*ISABELLA ROSE TAYLOR
Isabella Rose Taylor was born to be an entrepreneur: by the age of 8 she had sold her art through a gallery in Dallas. At 12 she was selling clothing in Nordstrom’s, and at 13 she presented a fashion collection at New York Fashion Week. Having finished high school when she was only 11 (she’s in Mensa), she graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City when she was 16.
She designs décor, furniture, and bedding for Pottery Barn Teen.
Oh, and she gives inspiring talks around the world and has been featured in more tv shows and magazines than can be listed here. Talk about hustle!
Zandra Cunningham is a wonderful example of a young entrepreneur who took a “no” and turned it into a massive business success. When her father refused to buy her lip balm at 9 years old, Zandra got to work creating her own. By her 10th birthday, she had started her first business selling all-natural skincare products at farmers’ markets.
Fast forward to now, and Zandra Beauty products are sold in Target stores all over America. Zandra Beauty has staked a claim in the world of natural beauty products by selling sustainably-produced moisturizers, hair wash, and yes, lip balm.
Like all modern young entrepreneurs, Zandra Beauty isn’t only about profit: 10% of the company’s sales support girls’ education around the world.
How many teen entrepreneurs have created technology that’s been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense for military use?
George Matus has.
He built his first drone when he was 12-years old. By 16, he was spending his after-school hours building his company Teal, including assembling drone prototypes and raising seed money.
These days Teal creates and sells drones so highly advanced, they are being purchased by the United States military. The Golden Eagle “sUAS” (“small Unmanned Aircraft System”) is also used in smaller industries for security and wildlife purposes. George is a wonderful example of taking something you love and building a business around it.
When he was only 10-years old, Jack Bonneau fulfilled the dream of many young entrepreneurs by appearing on Shark Tank. What started as that most classic of American businesses run by kids – a lemonade stand – quickly grew as he teamed up with other kids to help them sell and learn about entrepreneurship.
These days, Jack runs a company called Teen Hustl, an all-teen delivery service that supports hyper-local communities. Teen Hustl is Jack’s way of providing teen-friendly jobs to other young entrepreneurs. He’s sort of a meta-entrepreneur!
It would be far easier to list the things Zaynah Bhanji hasn’t done than the things she has. She’s an entrepreneur. She’s a mentor. She’s a global speaker. She’s an innovator, musician, athlete, and community service volunteer.
Zaynah’s projects include developing technology that helps predict and prevent falls in senior citizens, VR and AI programs that teach young people how to communicate effectively, and Augmented Reality programs for healthcare education.
All of this while still a teenager.
She’s a coding phenom using her skills and expertise across the spectrum of human experience to make the world a better place through cutting-edge technology.
Sanil Chawla is another meta-entrepreneur on our list. His company, Hack+, was created to encourage students to launch their own startup businesses by providing them with mentors, industry partners, legal services, and other start-up necessities.
Applicants can choose whether to launch an event, a non-profit, or a startup. The only thing student applicants need is an idea. For young entrepreneurs with zero experience and no clue how to get started, Hack+ makes sure you are supported from start to finish.
Sanil started Hack+ as a college freshman. These days, he’s not only the Executive Director of Hack+, but is launching a new AI-based music startup.
The Kantner Foundation has recognized outstanding students since 2012. We love innovators, movers, and shakers, and we take great pride in rewarding young talent. There is no minimum age for reaching for the stars and putting in the hard work it takes to make your dreams come true. We hope you feel inspired and energized by the young entrepreneurs listed above. How will you change the world?
The Kantner Foundation is proud to offer college scholarships to Florida’s high school entrepreneurs. To learn more about our program, and to start your application, click here.