As most teenagers celebrate their sweet sixteen, they look forward to picking up their first part-time job, getting their driver’s license, or going to the junior prom.
But 16-year-old Jack Kim is no average teenager. He’s already set up his first entrepreneurship called Benelab, and its growing success and philanthropic purpose show that age has nothing to do with how far you can go in business or how kind you can be to others.
Explain to our readers how Benelab works.
YOU search the web through Benelab, just like you’d do on Google. ADVERTISERS pay us money to display their ads on our search engine, and we operate on a revenue-share model with them.
WE donate 100% of our search revenue to a unique cause every month. Donations come solely from website use with not a single penny donated to us directly.
How did you get the idea to start Benelab, and what motivated to start a company now rather than wait until you’re out of college?
Benelab was founded in July of 2011 right after I came back from a 3-week Stanford EPGY program in business. The biggest reason for its start is that I love the idea of entrepreneurship and also believe that a single idea can make a ton of difference in the world. I’ve always liked web development, web design, Internet business, and the idea of making money. Plus, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own web startup. I believe my age is a great advantage in whatever I do, and business is certainly not an exception. I can use my age to stand out of the crowd and get the point across. You don’t have to be older or an adult to do something big. And if you do accomplish something at a young age, you can easily get more press! :)
Benelab donates all of its revenues to the chosen charity of the month. How did you become interested in philanthropy? Do you have any guidelines for selecting charities or causes?
We currently pick monthly nonprofits as a team. We get recommendations, and seek nonprofits ourselves too. We’re currently working on a system that lets the users vote for next month’s charity via a poll.
I’ve always just liked giving stuff to people – I like buying funny presents that I know my friends will like, and it’s exciting to watch people open my presents. Also, I just believe in the idea of giving back. I’ve promised myself that I’d give away at least 30% of my income to charity throughout my career. I also believe philanthropy can be cool. In today’s world, it’s kind of cliché; most all nonprofits always ask for donations, etc. But look at the rest of the consumer culture today, and you see everything is sleek, new, fast, and colorful. I think nonprofits can be that way too, and that’s what I’m trying to do with Benelab here. I call it a non-profit web startup, and I operate the company like any other fast-paced, high-risk technology startup would.
Benelab posts their monthly donations to their site
It’s been almost eight months since you started Benelab. What have you learned so far? Are your parents supportive of your after school ventures?
So far, I’ve gotten a ton of priceless experience meeting with new people, communicating my idea clearly, and managing my staff. As my first venture, Benelab has just been really fun, and I’m glad I have a head start in being an entrepreneur. I’ve also improved in skills such as website designing.
My parents are very supportive of what I do. They always ask me what’s going with the company and help me spread the word whenever I get new press coverage!
A lot of people would probably be surprised that you’re only 16 years old! Is there room for young entrepreneurs in the world? Why would the world benefit from young entrepreneurs?
There is definitely room for young entrepreneurs in the world. The world can benefit from young entrepreneurs just as they can benefit from any other adult entrepreneur. If you look at the most successful individuals in the world today, many of them started early: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? And I think the younger, the better, because you don’t have that much to lose when you’re young.
Seeing as how you’ve already done so much before you can even vote, what’s left for you to accomplish before you’re 30?
Haha, I don’t really think I’ve done that much so far! Anyone can go out and file some papers to start a company; it’s the results that matter. There’s more than one person my age who manages his own non-profit organization, and I strive to be the one who makes philanthropy easily (and freely) accessible to virtually anyone with an internet connection.
I have big visions for my future, but who knows what can happen! I know that I want to be an entrepreneur and that I want to make social entrepreneurship more popular, but like I said, anything can happen. I will do my very best to succeed in whatever I do, and I will also do my best to know when to give up and stop something when needed.
Lastly, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Well, I’m not sure if they would want an advice from a 16-year-old CEO with braces, but I’d say analyze your topic very thoroughly and go for it if you believe it will work! Sometimes you’ll fail, but I guess that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. It’s the thrill, and I personally believe you get what you put into it. And from what I’ve learned so far, having connections is very nice. Get help from anyone you can, because help never hurts. And use your age, it’s the biggest advantage you have.
[Photos: James Tabafunda/NWAW; Amazing Kids! Magazine; Benelab Facebook page]