Self-made tycoons – before they’ve even left school
Once upon a time, teenagers stayed out all night and in bed all morning. Not so Generation Z. Brought up on austerity and insecurity, they are ambitious, sharp and wildly hard-working. Radhika Sanghani meets four baby-faced entrepreneurs. Portraits by Sil
From property to horse feed, Generation Z entrepreneurs are making a mint. Radhika Sanghani meets four of them
AKSHAY RUPARELIA STARTED HIS ESTATE AGENT BUSINESS AT 16 IT IS NOW WORTH AN ESTIMATED £20 MILLION
When we hear the word ‘teenager’, most of us think back to our own adolescent selves, navigating our way through young love and raging hormones, fuelled by loud music and rebellion. But today’s Generation Z has produced a new breed of teen that turns this definition on its head: the tycoon. Unlike previous generations, these entrepreneurial youngsters are too busy building empires to think about parties and proms, and as a result they are now reaping the financial rewards.
An American study in 2015 found that more than 55 per cent of teens were ‘willing to work overtime’ – the highest percentage since 1993, and a rise on the 44 per cent of ‘millennial’ teens back in 2004. In her book igen, psychology professor Jean Twenge explains that the ‘igeneration’ – so named after their smartphone addictions – is one of the most hard-working. ‘Millennials grew up in economic prosperity and thought everything would be easy,’ she explains. ‘The igen doesn’t have that illusion.’
Today’s teens aren’t afraid of hard work, and they’re driven. Plus, having grown up with social media and the spirit of entrepreneurialism, the idea of starting up their own businesses seems like a realistic goal rather than a pipe dream. It’s no wonder some have already launched companies while still at school rather than waiting to graduate. Kate and Annie Madden, for instance, the Irish sisters who are juggling their innovative equine business with school and university. Or 20-year-old Akshay Ruparelia, who turned down a place at Oxford to focus on the estate agency he launched during his A levels, and Ollie Forsyth, who came up with his first business idea at 13.
These young tycoons all started earning thousands before finishing school – and they’re still going strong…