Edgelings

Teens in Tech

TEENS IN TECH by Scott Budman

Spencer Schoeben is, like lots of teenagers, spending the first day of summer hunched over a laptop in his room.  But unlike most teens out there, Spencer isn’t just surfing for friends or tweets; Spencer is a CEO, running a company.  He’s 15 years old.

We visited Spencer in his home office, after we got permission from his parents.  He and his business partner Daniel Brusilovsk run a company called “Teens In Tech,” a way for young people to network and find jobs.   Daniel caught up with us a little later.  He was busy with his other job – at cell phone video start-up Qik – which makes sense, because he’s already 17.

We here in Silicon Valley have always had a soft spot for young entrepreneurs.  Usually, though, we let them drink, or at least vote, after a day’s work.  For Spencer, the home office helps, because he can’t even legally drive yet.  He says when he goes to business conferences (we assume he gets a ride from someone), “I’m one of the youngest people, but I’m getting used to it.”  For Daniel, the business world is where he’s most comfortable:  “My closest friends know me, because I hired most of them.”

Up in Spencer’s parents’ attic, the duo – who met on Twitter – schedule teen conferences (a good way to make money, it turns out), keep their 5,000 customers in the loop, and constantly update their business plan.  When the day is done, they get back to the business of being teenagers.  “I’m a normal teenager,” Daniel says.  “I hang out with friends, go to movies, but I run a company on the side.”

They may not scream “executives” when you meet them, but then again, they are like most executives you meet:  Peering at their cell phones or laptops, relentlessly staying in touch with their peers.  With the job market stagnant, maybe more teenagers can take a page from these guys:  Do what you love, and make some money at it, too.

Daniel starts college in the fall, Spencer turned 16 last week, and Scott (the old guy) can be reached on Twitter:  @scottbudman