If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how to become rich and famous as a teenager (or just like the challenge of attaining millionaire status as a teenager), it can feel like only way is to be the breakout star of a hit Netflix show, found your own social network, or become a TikTok viral sensation. By those standards, it would seem that great wealth is only created for those with name recognition in the entertainment space – but that simply isn’t true. In fact, there are dozens of teenagers who didn’t grow up with money and didn’t all get lucky on social media or in Hollywood, yet still somehow became millionaires before they turned 20 years old. How did they do it? While there are countless more teen millionaires out there, we’ve outlined 13 diverse success stories below of kids who joined the ranks of the richest people all on their own merit in the hopes it may inspire you to pursue your own “next big thing”. Hopefully this offers some nuggets of wisdom on your quest to figure out how to become rich and famous as a teenager and perhaps results in your positive impact on the world!
The Cooks are brother and sister who became super-rich when they created MyYearbook.com. They had an older brother who invested $250,000 in this digital yearbook site, but today it is worth more than $100 million. David was 17 and Catherine was 15 when they first came up with the idea, and thankfully they decided to go with it and shoot for their goal. Today, the company has had a few name changes, with its most recent name being The Meet Group, which owns several social media sites. These sites include Tagged, MeetMe, hi5, and Skout.
One of the impressive things about the Cooks’ success is their ability to get investors not long after starting MyYearbook. They received $4.1 million in investments in 2006 and $13 million in 2008. They have spoken at numerous technology conferences and in 2017, they purchased a dating site called Lovoo as part of the Meet Group’s collection of businesses. While the site was created with workers in India, the Cooks are hands-on owners and are still involved in the day-to-day aspects of the Meet Group. This should inspire you that even at a young age, a good idea and an unwavering work ethic can take you far if you know how to pitch, market, and network with the right people.
Timothy Sykes is an incredibly successful stock investor who took his bar mitzvah money to make his first investment. He initially invested only in penny stocks, but by the time he turned 21 years old, his net worth was more than $1.5 million. Considering the bar mitzvah money was only around $12,000, this is a very impressive return on investment (ROI). Sykes got a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in philosophy and a minor in business, but he was known to cut class frequently in order to trade day stocks, then prioritizing his income streams over his education. In 2003, he founded Cilantro Fund Management, but it has since shut down.
These days, Sykes is an inspirational speaker, teacher, and writer who specializes in teaching people how to get rich with penny trading. He is an excellent example of someone who found his niche at an early age and didn’t give up on his dream. He eventually founded The Timothy Sykes Foundation, later changed to The Karmagawa Foundation, which has spent millions building primary schools in areas such as Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos. Apparently, his values have come full circle, as the teen who cut class has now donated millions to creating easier access to education for the disadvantaged youth.
When Maddie Bradshaw was only 15 years old, she found herself on the TV show Shark Tank and impressed three of the judges so much that they invested a whopping $300,000 for 30% of the business, which turned out to be a win-win situation. Her product is a bottle cap business called M3 Design. Unfortunately, due to various lawsuits, she never received the money, but she still went on to make $1.6 million in her first year of business. Before this, she started out designing locker decorations using only the tops of soda bottles. She did this because she couldn’t find anything else on the market that she liked.
Bradshaw started by drawing her own designs, putting them inside of a bottle cap, then putting them on her locker. At the time, she was going to a prestigious all-girls’ school in Dallas. When other girls saw the caps, they wanted them, too, and the rest is history. Sometimes a group of local teenage girls or school peers is enough to prove a soon-to-be multi-million-dollar concept. Maddie eventually created M3 Girl Designs, LLC, which has sold a total of $5 million worth of the product. She makes some 50,000 necklaces per month, all with the bottle caps instead of gemstones, which is arguably of the most innovative, yet simple business ideas created by a teen.
Farrah Gray started his career by selling homemade lotion and hand-painted rocks door to door – at the age of 6. He is now the owner of Farr-Out Food, which earned him more than $1.5 million by the time he was 14 years old. Gray is the son of the late black nationalist leader Khalid Abdul Muhammad and he grew up in Chicago on the South side. Today, he is an author, motivational speaker, and investor, and he’s amassed numerous honors during his career. This includes The Trumpet Award, The Network Journal’s Under 40 Class Award, and the number 5 ranking on the Famous Black Entrepreneurs list.
Gray has published a total of three books, all of which give ordinary people advice on how to make a lot of money and how to become one of the many self-made millionaires in the world that accomplish this goal each year. His latest book is called The Truth Shall Make You Rich: The New Road Map to Radical Prosperity, and it was published in 2009.
When Madison Robinson was only 15 years old, she created a product called Fish Flops, which were casual shoes with a flair for attracting teen customers. Even before she got her driver’s license, this young teenage millionaire had made more than $1 million in sales. She has since branched out to produce other products, including apparel and even a complementary app. Today, she prides herself on philanthropy work as well as her business, donating tons of these shoes to needy children all around the world.
Some of her many products include flip flops, rain boots, T-shirts, sandals, swim trunks, swimsuits, and more, all of which have a “fish” theme and are bright and colorful. You can visit her website to review and purchase any of her products, and what’s even better, the products are very reasonably priced, so you can purchase any of them without breaking the bank. The products even come with her own unique line of characters, such as Penny the Penguin, Topper the Turtle, and Pinchie the Crab, among others.
While we weren’t going to focus so much on well-known personalities or famous people, Justin Bieber’s grass roots come-up is worth noting, since he utilized a simple video on a YouTube channel to break into a notoriously competitive and selective industry. Don’t be fooled; it was only after a lot of practice – over a decade of performing, starting when he was a tiny kid – that Justin became an “overnight success” at the age of 15 when he put out his 7-track EP called My World. Since then, Justin has created many additional streams of income as a successful entrepreneur, with products such as apparel and even a fragrance line. As of this writing, Justin has sold more than 150 million records worldwide and has a net worth somewhere in the area of $285 million. He is a Canadian singer who Time magazine named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011.
His celebrity seems to be as strong today as it was when he first came on the scene – and that long time relevance is a testament to his relentless drive to hustle, whether he’s producing new music videos, physical products, or touring the world. Although Bieber had a normal middle-class upbringing in Ontario, he undoubtedly can hold his own among wealthy people, but he shares a common bond with the teen entrepreneurs who created products or social presences out of obscurity, on the backs of their hard work and unwillingness to give up, even for the uncertain decade preceding their “big break”.
Scott and Stacey Ferreira are brother and sister, and their claim to fame is their creation of the website MySocialCloud.com. While Scott was in college when they did this, Stacey was still in high school. Nevertheless, their father worked at both IBM and Google and had a very entrepreneurial spirit, which they mimicked. The duo received a $1 million investment to create their website, which is a cloud-driven social media platform that allows users to log into all of their accounts, without having to remember every single password, from one single, secure website.
There are many different ways for teenagers to make money, but few can be more useful than creating a site that allows you to get into all of your websites without having to remember tons of passwords. After all, who has time for that? MySocialCloud will auto-populate password fields and therefore allows users to log into numerous accounts with the push of a button. It even provides regular security updates and lets users know if any website has been hacked, so its abilities are extremely valuable.
Dominic McVey is from London, England, and he started importing scooters from the U.S. when he was just 13 years old, then selling them locally. Because of the dollar-to-pound ratio, he made tons of money doing this, even becoming a millionaire by the time he was 15. As of 2011, his net worth is said to be around $15 million, and today he manages a portfolio of various business interests, including music, fashion, and cosmetics. He serves as an advisor on entrepreneurship to the Irish government and has consulted for numerous organizations and institutions.
We hear the term rich habits a lot, but people who become millionaires often simply have a great eye for a trend that’s likely to explode, and it seems McVey jumped on an opportunity based on the popularity of scooters and his own common sense when it comes to managing money. Today, he also owns a publishing company and is the U.K.’s youngest national magazine publisher. His ability to dive into different business interests is also something that has helped him acquire the wealth many people dream about.
At the tender age of 8, Abbey Fleck created a simple way to cook bacon in the microwave. The device is called Makin’ Bacon and is a tray that is 1 inch thick and has two separate compartments for cooking bacon. Today, the device is still extremely popular, which is why you can see Miss Fleck in various infomercials and on the talk-show circuit. To date, she has been on popular shows such as Late Night with David Letterman, Dateline NBC, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She’s also been all over the world promoting her product, which she invented with her dad’s help in their kitchen.
As of this writing, Abbey Fleck’s net worth is estimated at more than $2 million. Her device works because it allows bacon to hang on rods or bars instead of being laid flat in a cooking dish. The device currently sells for around $15 on Amazon. It is easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, and you use 1-3 bars (rods), depending on how many slices of bacon you’re cooking. This story goes to show you that people of any age can have great ideas that can make them rich – and with a little help and a lot of inspiration, you’re never too young to embark on your own company.
Known as the British Bill Gates, Carl Churchill started his first web-design business when he was only 12 years old. His net worth today is estimated at around $10 million, and he made his first million when he was only 19 years old. He created his own Internet service provider, DMC Internet, which was purchased by the Daisy Group for £4.8 million ($5.7 million) in 2010. He is currently the managing director of a company called NetPay Group, and he still runs a Daisy subsidiary. Just as important, Churchill is a philanthropist who donates to many worthy causes.
He started his business by taking £5,000 out of his own savings account, which is equivalent to nearly $6,000 today. He conducts various masterclasses sharing his expertise with others, and one of his most popular quotes is, “a ‘no’ is never really a ‘no;’ you can always turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ … persistence is key.” He attributes his success partly to the fact that he’s passionate about all of his business ventures. Without passion, he says, your chances of being successful go down tremendously.
When James Murray Wells was in college in England, he noticed that there were no online retailers selling eyeglasses, so he decided to create his own. Called Prescription Eyewear Limited but trading as Glasses Direct, the e-commerce site is now headquartered in France after being sold to Cipio Partners in 2013. Wells used the remainder of his student loan to fund the business, and he sold 22,000 pairs of glasses in his first year. As of 2014, he has sold more than $41 million worth of glasses. He concentrated on making high-quality eyeglasses at reasonable prices after learning of the huge markup on eyeglasses in the U.K.
The eyeglasses market is difficult to break into in the U.K., especially for young people, which is one of the reasons why Wells’ feat is such a huge one. Today, Wells spends a lot of his time speaking at entrepreneur events, mentoring young people, and being politically active in an attempt to help future entrepreneurs become more successful. He calls this business a “recession-proof business,” which is something for teens to think about if they want to find the perfect business niche.
Instead of spending time playing video games like most teenagers, Robert Nay created his own game for the iPhone, called Bubble Ball, and it soon became more popular than Angry Birds in the realm of free-to-download games. Naturally, he put a lot of hard work into the game, a multi-level physics game that garnered a million downloads in the first two weeks, which is phenomenal by any standards. In fact, in one 2-week period, Nay made a cool $2 million in largely passive income thanks to this game. The game is unique because it starts out simple but gets increasingly more difficult the longer you play it.
While Nay had no coding experience whatsoever in the beginning, he created Bubble Ball all by himself and now has plans to develop other games as well. He’d also like to write an e-book someday describing development of games for the iPhone. When asked if he has any advice for other game developers, he answered, “Shoot for the stars. Put your mind to it, and most importantly, have fun.” After all, if you can’t get excited about your own game (or your own business), you can’t expect others to do so.
Sean Belnick started out as a regular teenager, making money by mowing lawns and selling from his collection of Pokemon cards. One day, he decided to take $500 of that money and invest it into a business he called bizchair.com. Belnick had taken notice of his stepfather’s office furniture business and one day thought, people could save a lot of money on furniture if they cut out the middleman. That’s how his business was born. He took some money, created bizchair.com, and the rest is history. At the time, the Internet was just catching on, so it was definitely the best time to start an online business (jumping on viable opportunities at the right time is one of the most important things for success in entrepreneurship).
By the time Belnick was 16 years old, he was a millionaire. Today, bizchair is still one of the most successful sites that sell furniture, and it is now headquartered on a 70-acre piece of property in Georgia. When it comes to successful people that started – and succeeded – very young, Belnick is one of the most successful.