If I can do it, anyone can! Just follow my tips
19 year old self-made millionaire teaches people how to get some on the side!
Being tormented by school bullies can destroy a young person’s confidence. Worse, it can drive them to despair and leave them feeling that life is pointless.
It’s an experience that is all too familiar to Ollie Forsyth, whose school years were plagued by bullying, to the point where he just wanted to end it all. Thankfully he didn’t, and instead dug deep to find the energy and determination to defeat his demons and focus on his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Today, aged 17, he is involved in eight companies, business is booming, and his sights are set on global expansion.
Forsyth, who hails from Northamptonshire, England, is dyslexic; couldn’t read until he was 15 and left school aged 16 with no qualifications. But that hasn’t deterred him from his goal of becoming a millionaire by the time he’s 20.
He was just 13 when he started his first business Ollie’s Shop, an online gift shop for teenagers, with no capital to back it.
He says: “I used my imagination to build a company from nothing. I contacted 10 different suppliers around the world and asked them to make me some friendship bracelets. The deal was that in order for me to take them to the next stage, they would have to send me 10 free samples for free, which they did. So now I had 100 free samples, sold them at £10.00 each, and very quickly I had my first £1,000.”
In its first year, Ollie’s Shop turned over £13,000, ($18,700) and has doubled turnover every year since. Another startup that he co-founded is UniBell a university platform where students can buy and sell products at university campuses.
“It is a sort of eBay EBAY +0% for students,” he explains. “It has been done before, but where our competitors have thought very small, we are going big. We are in all British universities, and will be hitting the US East Coast very soon.”
Forsyth is also CMO at Somato and CoolNearYou. “Somato is very interesting,” he says. “It’s a US-based educational keyboard that teaches kids to type by helping them make fewer mistakes. Our keyboard allows students to feel the keys rather than just see them.”
He also co-founded digital marketing agency UNBXD and has several more projects in the pipeline, including an incubator and a school for entrepreneurs in India.
His accomplishments at such a young age beg the question of whether it was the unpleasant experience he had at school that drove him to escape it by pursuing his entrepreneurial aspirations. But no, what really drove him, he says, was being told that he was a failure.
He says: “That word, failure, comes to me everyday – apparently I was one at school. But, I would ask, are qualifications the most important thing in our lives? No, what really matters are the things you love doing. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but being bullied certainly pushed and motivated me even more. The aim was, one day, one of those ‘unkind’ people, would ask me for a job, would they get one? Well, would you give them one?”
But launching a business has its challenges and is certainly no easy alternative to academic study, and for Forsyth, the biggest challenge in getting his first business off the ground was getting his name out there.
“Not many people take you seriously as a young student, but once you start making some good connections, things start to change,” he says.
He seems to have found the funding less of a challenge; the 17-year-old is now a seasoned bootstrapper, having self-funded all of the businesses that he founded and co-founded. However he says they will be looking to raise some capital for UniBell this year and when the time comes, for the other companies in his growing portfolio.
For all his business success, he has never forgotten just how isolating school life can be, and spends a lot of time doing public speaking at schools and universities to encourage other youngsters with ambitions of making their way in the world as entrepreneurs.
Another one of his business brainchilds is The Budding Entrepreneur Magazine which inspires entrepreneurs to start their own business, especially the ones still at school.
He says: “I love speaking to students, and when I tell them my age – I leave it right to the last presentation slide – they are pretty shocked. I’m a great believer in encouraging young people as early as possible. They have so many great ideas, but sadly the facilities are not there in these schools to help kick start their businesses. I think it’s a great shame schools don’t encourage entrepreneurship.”
As an ambassador for young entrepreneurship, his advice is short and to the point. Be prepared to work hard, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and don’t focus on the money, focus on making a great business – the money will come later.
And get a mentor, he adds. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help because the worst response you could get is ‘no’.”