Some people are making a fortune in cyberspace. Here are some teenage Internet entrepreneurs who are showing the adults how to do it.
What’s it all about? Most companies have their own website these days, but some companies exist only on the Internet. They are sometimes called ‘dot com’ companies. A lot of them don’t make a profit from selling products and some companies only provide information to the general public. They usually make money from advertising.
How are young people connected to Internet business?Some of the most successful Net entrepreneurs are teenagers who are still at school. Tom Hadfield, 16, started a football results website called Soccernet in his bedroom and it became a business worth£80 million. Cyber-Britain.com and Jewishnet were started by Ben Cohen, who is 18.
Why are they so successful?David Hands, of the Federation of Small Businesses, says: ‘Children are at ease with the Net and new technology. They can now start small business from their bedrooms and it doesn’t cost them much money’.
What kind of teenagers start dot com companies?Charlie Skilling of the charity Young Enterprise, which helps teenagers learn about business, says that there are two kinds of teenage entrepreneur. “There are those who want to get rich and those who want to be creative and provide something for the community”.
How do they get interested in the Net?Ben Cohen’s story is a classic example. When he was 13 he became very ill and couldn’t leave his house. “I hadn’t been into the Internet much before that, but I started using it to keep in touch with the world. I realized how powerful it was for reaching people at a low cost,” says Ben.
How did he start Jewishnet?He borrowed £150 from his dad to buy the domain name Jewishnet.co.uk and contacted the venture capitalist who had given money to support Soccernet. Despite the success of his web business, Ben has continued a normal life. He still goes to school and took his ‘A’ levels last summer.
What is Jewishnet?It is a successful website for the Jewish community. You can find links here to sites on everything from bar mitzvah (a ceremony which takes place on the 13th birthday of a Jewish boy and marks his entry into adulthood), to teenage chat rooms. Ben also started CyberBritain.com which is the fastest growing on-line network in Europe.
Are there any disadvantages to being young and successful?
Ø Some young people report feeling a lot of pressure to succeed after venture capitalists have invested money in their companies. They often have no social life.
Ø They also say they sometimes have problems with other students. “When I go into the college laundry room, people say things like, ‘Oh, I didn’t think millionaires did their own washing,’ ” one student entrepreneur said.
Ø “Certain people in my company didn’t like having a boss who was 17 years old,” Ben Cohen says. “And I’m having to make decisions that I don’t really want to, like how many desks we should have and what color the walls should be. Sometimes I think it’s pressure I don’t really need.”
a. According to the text, are the following sentences true (T) or false (F)?
1. Internet companies usually make their money from advertising.
2. Ben Cohen has made £80 million from his websites.
3. Ben wasn’t interested in the Internet until he became ill when he was 13.
4. Ben borrowed thousands of pounds from his dad to set up his company.
5. Ben couldn’t take his exams because he was too busy with his Internet businesses.
6. Ben’s company CyberBritain.com is the fastest growing on-line network in Europe.
7. Most young people involved in Internet companies manage to have a normal social life.