Posted On: 2007-01-16
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First we have author and entrepreneur, Cameron Johnson joining us. He's the author of the just-published book, "You Call the Shots. Succeed your way, and live the life you want with the 19 secrets of entrepreneurship." Cameron started his first business at the age of nine, and hasn't stopped starting them. Now at age 22, Cameron joins us to talk entrepreneurship, and age, and his new book. Cameron, welcome to the show.
Thanks you Gary, Thanks so much for having me.
My pleasure. Now, let's start out. How did you start a business at age nine? At age nine I was thinking about how could Willie Mays possibly hit that curve ball? I wasn't thinking business at all. How did that come about?
Well, it was actually a hobby, and I started a printing company using the computer and printer that my parents had given me as a Christmas present at that time. So it started off just as a printing company. I was printing greeting cards, stationary, letterhead, business cards for friends and family members, and then I realized that I could charge for it, and that's exactly how I started it as a supplement to my weekly allowance.
Great! And so where did you go from there, what other experiences have you had?
Well, after that I started a business when I was twelve years old. I took my sister's beanie baby collection and sold it on eBay for $1,000. And then I realized I didn't have any more beanie babies, and I applied to become a retailer of beanie baby manufacturers, and I was accepted, because they don't ask your age on the application, believe it or not. And then I was beginning to order beanie babies wholesale from the manufacturer, and I placed my first order, which was using basically all the savings that I had and the money that I had earned form the printing company business, and I ordered 2,000 beanie babies, and I began selling those, and I started a website selling them, and the business grew to become the number 2 beanie baby retailer on the Internet, and I made $50,000 that year selling beanie babies.
Wow. When did the market fall out for beanie babies?
Well, you know, it wasn't actually
Or has it yet?
No, it definitely did. But what was funny was I actually closed that business and wanted to find a new business to start because I was graduating fifth grade and going into middle school and I knew beanie babies weren't going to be the cool thing. So I got out of the business just before the market started to taper off, and I was very fortunate.
That's great. What other businesses have you had?
Well, I had an email service. I started a company called My Easy Mail, which was a free email forwarding service, and I sold that business a couple years later, but it allowed customers to have a free way of creating email address, so for instance, Cameron at myeasymail.com would forward all your emails to let's say your AOL address, but the sender wouldn't know. So it would block out junk email. It would also provide a sense of security because the sender wouldn't know, you know, your AOL email address. So that was a free service that was paid for by advertising.
And how old were you when you did that business?
That business I was 14, and I was nominated at one of, out of 100,000 applicants, Junior Achievement chose three finalists for their Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award. And I was one of their three finalists, and I was flown down to Atlanta, Georgia, and I met one of the other finalists who actually ended up winning the award, I did not. And I ended up partnering with him and asking him if he wanted to start a new business with an idea that I had, and I would be the CEO and he would be the COO, and we started this business, an online advertising company, and we grew it to have...
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