Bryan Crampton has created over 38 iphone apps. Chris Wojick has a thriving landscaping business. Reade Keelips buys and refurbishes old cars. What makes them so unusual is the fact that they are all still in their teens. While their peers work as lifeguards, camp counselors or grocery store cashiers, these entrepreneurs have gotten a taste of running their own businesses at an early age.
Bryan Crampton started developing iphone apps for fun, using Apple’s Developer software, when he was just 13 years old. He collaborated with his friend Michael LaSala to create his first one, iPaintBall. His next one, Soccer Juggle Ball, requires users to tap on the soccer ball to keep it in the air. He has also been hired by other people to turn their ideas into apps; these have included a nail polish app that enables users to upload, stylize, and share pictures of their nails. Apple’s software allows Crampton to set the price for downloads and track the results; he receives 70 percent of the revenue and Apple takes 30 percent. To date, he has created over 38 apps, and earned over $50,000. “So far, ipaintball has received over 6,000 downloads, Soccer Juggle Ball, over 8,000,” he notes. His most successful app is Crush List, which he developed with his older brother; it has received over 14,000 downloads. “You go into Facebook, select up to 15 of your friends to have crush on, and send them hints. But you only know if someone has a crush on you if they’ve put you on their crush list,” he explains. Now a freshman at Dartmouth College, Crampton is taking a break from creating apps, but given his track record, it is likely he will be developing many more in the future.
Not long after he started mowing his family’s lawn at 12, Chris Wojick realized he enjoyed yard work. “I got a lot of satisfaction when our property looked good,” he admits. When a neighbor’s regular lawn crew walked off the job, he offered to mow their yard. They hired him, paying him $30 a week. “I’d never earned any money before so this seemed like a huge amount.” Still only in middle school, Chris created a website, put flyers in neighbors’ mailboxes, and used official invoices to track his revenue. More recently, he invested in new equipment to offer a higher level of service. He now mows, weeds, waters, and does yard cleanup for 8 to 10 regular customers, about all he can handle because his busy season runs from April though October and overlaps with school. “During the school year, I try to do all their properties on weekends, but sometimes I have to work Thursday and Friday afternoons,” he explains. Now a Wilton High School senior with plans to attend college, Chris says, “I don’t know if my studies will lead to lawn care, but I’m sure I’ll be running my own business one day.”
As a young boy, Reade Keelips spent hours helping his father work on old cars. At first he would bring him tools, and watch him work, but eventually he learned how to change oil, replace brakes, starters, carburetors, master cylinders, and do body work. Ready to turn his passion into profit, he refurbished a 1974 Datsun Z, cutting out the rust and welding new panels, and sold it on ebay. He used the proceeds to purchase his next project, a red 1972 Saab, which needed engine and bodywork, and a new paint job. After fixing it up, he listed it on ebay as well; a buyer from Kansas purchased it. His other projects have included a 1966 Ford Fairlane, several 1960s motorcycles, a 1966 Porsche and a vintage Mustang. “I love American muscle cars, but when I’m looking for a car to fix up and sell, it’s often the more unusual cars that are the most fun to work on. Newer cars have a lot of computer systems, so you can’t really take a part out, clean it off, and put it back in. You have to replace it completely,” he explains. Working on cars is a messy job, and he often comes home covered in grease, but says, “It’s a great feeling to start with a car someone is trying to get rid up and end up with one you could take to a show.” While he will have less time to work on cars now that he is a freshman at Franklin & Marshall, he plans to get back to his passion during breaks and summer vacation.