How did 12-year-old Londoner Jenk Oz become Britain’s youngest CEO? By spotting a gap in the market: telling pre-teens where to go out…
‘When you’re an only child like me, you get used to spending lots of your time with adults. You get comfortable talking to them, and maybe you even start acting a bit like them too. So it actually didn’t feel too weird when I recently started up a company, employing people who are quite a few years older than me! I’m 12, and thanks to my website, which is based in London, I’m now the country’s youngest CEO.
It wasn’t something I ever planned, really. At first there was only an idea. Me and my mum started emailing out a newsletter with tips of fun things for my schoolfriends to do at weekends. I didn’t seriously think something like that could turn into a business, but I kept working on it anyway, and one day got to present it to my whole school in a show-and-tell. Persuading 300 kids and teachers was my first big task. Luckily, they were really encouraging. So the original idea became iCoolKid, a website telling eight to 15-year-olds about all the cool stuff they need to visit, watch, listen to, buy and sign up for – from DJ lessons to ping-pong tournaments.
We get 4,000 hits on some days, have 55,000 social followers and employ seven staff. We were definitely inspired by what Time Out does – but there’s not much information out there for people my age. Why not? Generation Z wants to go out and have a good time, just like anyone else.
Some of my favourite memories of growing up in London have been getting to see some big West End theatre shows: ‘Wicked’, ‘Billy Elliot’, ‘Matilda’… The ones with child stars inspired me to get into the performing arts myself. I’ve been playing music, dancing and acting since I was four or five years old, and I even appeared alongside Idris Elba in the film ‘100 Streets’. Interviewing him for my website was maybe the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.
My mum worked in banking and my dad’s an orthopaedic surgeon. They’re not creative at all – they would admit that! – but their support has just been astronomical. I don’t just mean the money aspect, but also the work they put in. Mum is part of the business and her scheduling is so important to it all. She won’t let me break it!
If I’m not at the iCoolKid headquarters because it’s a school day, I make time before lessons or during lunch to call the office. I like to pass on what the other kids have been talking about that day, since they’re exactly the right age for the website. The school are very forgiving of me spending time on this – there aren’t many other kids doing it.
I’ve always filled my free time by going to all sorts of London events like Comic Con, or taking part in clubs and classes, from lessons in martial arts to graffiti. It’s helpful that the things I love doing can feed into iCoolKid – because everything apart from my school work has to be 100 percent about the business. That’s how you make it as a young entrepreneur. Still, I know that one day, I’ll be too old for our target audience – then it’ll be time to put someone new in front of the camera!’
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