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Friday, Sep 22, 2023

INTERNET–Next Wave of ‘Net Entrepreneurs Could Be Younger

Firm’s Services Foster Teens’ Interest in Online Business

As twentysomething cyber-tycoons make news in the business world, the idea of making millions on the Web has spread to an even younger crowd.

Eight percent of local high school students in economics classes are running an online business and 56 percent are planning or thinking about launching an Internet venture, according to a survey conducted by Computer Economics, Inc.

The Carlsbad-based independent research firm estimates there are 1.6 million teen-age entrepreneurs in the United States and 4 million worldwide.

“We contend that the age of the Internet entrepreneur is going to drop in the next five years as more and more teens begin ‘Net start-ups. These are the future IT (information technology) workers and the next wave of individuals that will be shaping the Internet economy,” said Samir Bhavnani, a research analyst with the firm.

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– Teens Offered

Free Services

Computer Economics is attempting to discover why teens are so interested in starting a company so early in life and what kinds of businesses they are building by offering them the firm’s services for free, Bhavnani said.

The research firm, which claims to serve 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies, helps executives plan E-business strategies and control information technology costs.

Through the Teen E-Business Entrepreneurial Program, teens have free access to the firm’s services such as E-business news, tips, trends and weekly updates. Analysts are also available to answer questions.

In order to qualify for the program, youths worldwide must be in school, he said.

When students register for the service, the company will collect data on participants’ ages, interests and business pursuits, he said.

About 20 teens have signed up for the program, which kicked off Feb. 16. Students can register at (www.computereconomics.com/teens.html). “We’ve gotten a very good response so far, and we expect a lot more,” Bhavnani said.

– Speakers Will Discuss E-Commerce Careers

Through the summer, E-commerce experts will also be speaking at schools to educate and inform students about E-commerce careers, he said.

“High school students, both male and female, often have tremendous ideas, and they need encouragement and advice, and this will help get them more involved,” said Michael Erbschloe, vice president of research.

This type of program can also be a benefit to all, according to Scott Kunkel, associate professor of management in USD’s School of Business.

“The very best thing that we as a society could do to encourage entrepreneurs 20 years from now is to encourage small start-ups now, even if they fail,” said Kunkel, who is also director of USD’s International Institute for Family-Owned Business.

Teens would be interested in pursuing an online venture for several reasons, Kunkel added.

Teens have some advantages over older business professionals in that they have grown up with technology, are willing to try new and innovative things and are able to pursue these ventures without funding, he said.

– Different Views

On Business Models

Older professionals think a successful business requires revenues and profits, while younger people have seen a different kind of business model work, he said.

Teens know about Internet companies that start up, get a huge customer base, and sell out for millions of dollars without making a nickel, Kunkel said.

“That’s giving kids the idea this might be neat, this might be fun,” he said.

Most of these ventures are not the kind someone would work on the rest of their lives and pass down to the children, he said. Teens are attracted to it because online businesses are short-term ventures they can sell when it isn’t fun anymore, he said.

Internet businesses are also more feasible for teens, since they only need a computer for most start-ups, he said.

“And if it flops what have they lost? Their own time and programming , which isn’t really a loss at all, because they spent the whole time learning,” Kunkel said.

“Even if the kid never makes anything that is of any value, it’s a win because of the learning that’s taking place. It’s a win because of the experience the kid develops at having tried a venture.”

– Failures Often

Precede Success

Kunkel said statistics show that successful entrepreneurs are more likely to have tried a business and failed.

Teens who pursue a business idea may also be more likely to go onto college where they can learn more things, he said, noting that the most successful students have interests outside of school.

In addition, such activities may help keep youths from getting into trouble, he said.

New ‘Netrepreneurs’ Will Be High School Students

Adam Harriss

In a survey of 101 San Diego County high school seniors in economics classes, the independent research firm Computer Economics, Inc. found 8 percent of students are already running a business online.

About another 55 percent of the students surveyed are either planning an Internet business or are thinking of running an online venture in the future.

All the entrepreneurial students in the study who are running an E-business are male. Among the students currently planning a business, only one was female. Within the 37 percent of students who say they have never considered running their own business, more than half are female.

“Although it is good to see that some female students are exploring netrepreneurialship, most of the young women in our survey are clearly at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts, who are gaining valuable business and technical experience in their ventures,” said Computer Economics senior research analyst Catherine Huneke.

“There is some cause for concern here because entrepreneurial activity at an early age is closely tied to success down the line,” Huneke said.

Of the male students currently running an Internet business, most say they are extremely likely to pursue a career related to the Internet in the future. The majority of these students also say it is extremely important or very important to be knowledgeable about the Internet.

Another differentiator between the genders is the ownership of a personal Web page that builds a steady stream of visitors. Of the students that own personal Web sites, only 11 percent are female.

For female students, their personal Web site is “for fun” or is used to express ideas or promote a cause. Among the male students, 63 percent use their Web site to make money.

Computer Economics plans to conduct further research to find out why teen-agers are interested in pursuing an online business, what kinds of ventures they are pursuing, and why fewer females are interested in pursuing these types of ventures.

Harriss is a research analyst for Computer Economics, an independent research firm based in Carlsbad.


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