If you’ve ever read the biographies of famous contemporary entrepreneurs, you’ll learn stories of how they started a roadside lemonade stand when they were 15, or sold baseball cards to schoolyard friends at the age of 14.
When I was 14, I worked at a fast-food outlet, and spent my money on comics and going to the movies with friends.
I recently had an opportunity to talk to Lachy Groom, a young entrepreneur from Australia; after a lengthy email conversation, I found out he was only 14 years old! The opportunity to find out what goes on in the mind of a very young entrepreneur was irresistible.
Lachy currently runs two businesses: book review web site, Uncoverr.com (disclaimer: SitePoint currently advertise on this site) and blog XHTML/CSS service, PSDtoWordPress.com. Lachy calls himself a web developer who started off as an XHTML/CSS coder three or four years ago.
What is the startup story behind your business? When did it start?
I started when I was 10 or 11, I think. My granddad taught me HTML and I became quite good; I learned about CSS on W3Schools and then I wanted to find out how to make my site live. I found out about free hosts and learned from there.
I started off taking client work and converting PSDs to XHTML/CSS. I made quite a bit of money and so started other sites, sold them, and moved on. Now my two main projects are Uncoverr.com which SitePoint has been nice enough to sponsor, and PSDtoWordPress.com.
Your parents — how do they feel about having a 14-year-old entrepreneur in the house?
Heh, they’re fine about it. It was a bit of trouble convincing them to let me use their PayPal account at first, but then my mum registered one in her name that I can use myself. They leave me to it; I guess to them it’s just like me having a part-time job.
With school and social life, you must be busy. What does an average day (during school term) consist of?
I’ll wake up at 7.00 a.m. and leave for school by 8.00 a.m. After school I usually play sport for a couple of hours, and then relax until dinner time.
Then, once I’ve had dinner, I’ll usually do two hours of work, as well as chat to my friends over Instant Message and on Facebook.
What’s your definition of success, and do you believe you’ve achieved it yet?
To be honest I’ve yet to really think about it. I think success is a very subjective term; to me it’s just completing my goals, and accomplishing what I wanted to finish in that day. If you complete your to-do list for that day plus a little more, it was a successful day ;). Some days I’m successful, some days otherwise. I feel though, in an overall sense, that success is just about being happy with where you are at in life. So, I think I’m yet to be successful, but will be in 4-10 years :).
What do you imagine you’ll be doing when you turn 18 years old?
I hope I’ll be running a startup or a design firm somewhere in Miami or Chicago. I’m currently in Western Australia but I have aspirations to move to the US. I hope to stay in the web industry running a company. Otherwise I’ll probably be a lawyer or an engineer.
What advice would you give to other teenage entrepreneurs?
NETWORK! I think the word teenage is irrelevant, and that advice is the same for any entrepreneur. I like the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I think that’s really true. But if I was to give advice straight to teens, it would be to have a good work/life balance. Make sure you enjoy yourself, that’s all that matters.
Thanks Lachy for your answers, and I look forward to watching your success in the coming years ahead.
This post first appeared as part of Issue 430 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I was co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.