$120K GROSSED IN FIRST YEAR
Business: Ice-cream and cookie parlor
Started: at age 13
When visitors to Pasadena, Calif.'s Baked Ice ice-cream parlor spot Winbush, 14, the actress who plays Vanessa Thomkins on FOX's The Bernie Mac Show, "they say, 'What are you doing working here?' " she says. Uh, she owns the joint. In 2003 Winbush opened the shop, which specializes in ice-cream sandwiches made with fresh cookies—just like she used to make with her mom Alice's home-baked cookies. At first "I thought she was kidding," says Alice, 41, a homemaker (dad Anthony, 43, is a mail carrier). But Winbush, an actress since age 2, had more start-up capital than most teens. And, yes, she puts in elbow grease. Says customer Teresa Cartznes, 41: "She's always in there wiping off counters like a little worker."
COY FUNK AND SKYLAR SCHIPPER
$20K EXPECTED 2004 GROSS
Business: Selling manure
Started: at ages 12 and 13
For a school auction last year, Funk and his mother, Rhesa, 41, a homemaker, scooped some sheep manure from a neighbor's pasture and labeled it fertilizer. To their surprise, the poop landed the fund-raiser's highest bid. "We started thinking about turning this into a business," says Funk, 15, of Stillwater, Okla., who joined forces with Schipper, 14, his best pal, to found manuregourmet.com, slogan: "No. 1 in the No. 2 business." Mostly via the Web, the pair have sold over 57,000 lbs. of dung, which they rake as a service from barns and farmyards around Stillwater and sun-dry into virtually odorless fertilizer at the Funk family farm. Then they package and sell it with names like Llama Beans (from llamas) and Billy Chili (from goats). "Who would have guessed," says Schipper, "there'd be so much interest in manure?"
$70K+ GROSS IN 2004
Business: Cuddlypuppy.com, a Web site selling miniature dogs
Started at: 15
At 5, all Hampson wanted for Christmas was a cash register; by 8, he was operating a candy-vending machine inside his Carbondale, Ill., elementary school. When a friend of his brother's asked him to help sell a litter of wheaten terrier puppies several years later, Hampson peddled the pooches in a week, netting $1,200—and saw a gold mine. In 2003 he started buying miniature dogs from a network of breeders and selling them over the Internet. Hampson, now 16, pays mom Barbara, 53, to answer phones and sister Alexandra, 21, to clean out the cages for dogs in transit that occupy cages in the kitchen and laundry room. "One of these days," he says, "I'm going to be a mega Bill Gates."
SOLD BUSINESS FOR $1M+
Business: Underwater walkie-talkies
Started: at age 10
Stachowski, 19, was snorkeling during a 1995 family vacation in Hawaii when he grew frustrated that he couldn't get his father's attention to point out a giant sea turtle. "It was maybe a crazy idea," he says, "but I wanted to talk underwater." Back home in Orinda, Calif., it took him two weeks—and a soccer cone, a snorkel mouthpiece and duct tape—to create the Water Talkie, a simple device that projects the voice underwater. Toys R Us ordered 50,000 units, the business grew, and Stachowski—now in his first year at the University of San Diego—sold his company to a California toy manufacturer in 2001. His next venture is anyone's guess. Says Stachowski: "I can learn a lot more in college."
ELISE AND EVAN MACMILLAN
$1M GROSS A YEAR
Business: Selling chocolates
Started: at ages 10 and 13
Elise MacMillan began making chocolates with her grandmother at age 3 and never stopped. Mom Kathleen MacMillan, 54, recalls finding concoctions of melted chocolate chips on celery sticks in the microwave. "I let her do her thing," she says. By 10, Elise had perfected her own candies—in the shape of animals—and decided to try selling them online. Business-savvy seventh grader Evan wrote a financial plan, and the Denver siblings secured a $5,000 bank loan and launched Chocolatefarm.com. Six years later they have 40 paid staffers who make, package and ship the candy, "but we check in every day and know what's going on," says Elise, 16, a high school junior. (Evan, 19, a freshman at California's Claremont McKenna College, manages the financial side of the business.) "While you're young," says Elise, "is a really good time to take risks."
$1M EST. 2003 GROSS
Business: Technology aid for health-care providers
Started: at age 11
Mohamed was 8 when his parents brought him along to a class on using their new PC. Soon he was devouring advanced programming manuals, mastering computer languages and designing Web sites. "I just sort of got hooked," says Mohamed, 18. Unchallenged by school, he says, "I started staying up until midnight working on my hobby." At 12, he began GlobalTek Solutions in his Carrollton, Texas, home, designing Web sites for a fee. Since then the firm and its more than 20 employees have evolved to create programs that computerize medical records for clinics. A home-schooled senior, Mohamed doesn't mind missing out on the teen life of his peers. "I'm getting enjoyment," he says, "from thinking out my company's strategy."
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