As a sixth-grader, Andrew Fashion and a pal figured out a way to transform their mechanical pencils into miniature rocket launchers.
Unlike most boys, they weren’t content merely using their invention to annoy teachers and fellow students. Instead, they started a business called Flaming Gold and handed out pieces of paper to their friends, advertising their goods. It netted them a couple of dollars a day – until their school banned the pencils.
Fast forward to 2005. Andrew had dropped out of high school and was spending his time developing websites online. After months of just scraping by, Andrew hit it big with ad revenue from his website, MySpaceSupport.com. He was pulling in $100,000+ checks every month. But after a few years of living the high life, the money stream from the site dried up and Andrew went from being a millionaire to being in debt.
Today, Andrew is living in Littleton, CO. He’s working hard to launch BeModel.com, a social networking website inspired by his passion for the photography industry. He’s also writing an autobiography that will detail his rise, fall, and resurgence. It is tentatively titled Young & Stupid.
The following is an excerpt from 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs (Volume 1). It has been republished with permission.
'This second, I would still be cleaning and tidying up the house. I've got a few roommates living in my house. They help out and I help out, but I always have to clean up after them.'
'In the beginning, it was about having all the toys. I was really into skateboarding and technology, so I always wanted the newest computer, the newest iPod, etc. The best of the best. Now it comes down to the fact that I just really want to be successful, make a lot of money, and live life to the fullest. I also love to help people, so it's kind of 'all of the above'.
I don't want to settle for a nine-to-five job. So, I'm constantly driven by the desire to do my own thing. I would rather end up living back at my mum's house or at a friend's house than
get another job. That's how stubborn I am.'
What challenges have you faced specifically because of your age? How has your age helped you to succeed?
When I was making a bunch of money, my close friends were just in shock. A lot of people started trying to get close to me and pitch their ideas to me. I found out who my real friends were. Five of my friends backstabbed me. One of them stole $5,000 from me. This guy was a good friend for a year or two and we hung out often. Then he told me that he would give me a deal at a shop, because he worked at BMW. He ended up taking five grand. I definitely learned a lot. I have a lot of haters, I guess. But I also have a lot of people who are really positive and who are rooting for me.
A real-estate developer -- not an internet guy. I love the internet and I will always work with it, but my ultimate goal is to build casinos, hotels, and nightclubs. I'll start in the Denver area, open a night club with a partner, and then eventually I will move to Las Vegas and California to build some hotels and casinos. I want to be a skyscraper guy.
'I bought my first car, in cash. I bought my house and had $80,000 dollars of renovations done to it. I ended up buying seven cars total, a few for my friends. One of my friends wrecked a car; I wrecked a car. I paid for that out of pocket. A lot of my money just disappeared.
I had a girlfriend. I lost a lot of money in Vegas. I got into poker. I bought a lot of toys, photography equipment, technology, tons of clothes, and trips to places like London, Florida, and Hawaii. I was young and stupid. The money was coming in so strongly, but it went out just as fast. All of a sudden, my site dropped off of Google and the money just stopped.
This time, instead of blowing money on toys and cars, I am going to invest it back into the company or another company. I will do the typical saving, like 401(k)'s and rainy day funds. But before I even start my retirement account again, I'm going to invest: real estate, stocks, commodities -- whatever I can do.'
'I've done my homework on our number one competitor. This site has been growing at a phenomenal rate. I think they have eight-and-a-half million page views a day. But they're not monetized properly.
I've been in the industry for three years. I've been watching the ads; I've been seeing their page views; I know how loyal their clients are. In their forums, I've seen people complaining and looking for new places to go. That's why I am so sure. I am here to be to them what Facebook was to MySpace. I want to revolutionise things.'
'Don't give up. Carpe diem: seize the day, seize the opportunity.
You've got to say that every single day. Make sure you never miss a moment and just go for it. Do it. Never give up. As simple as that sounds, that's really it. Make it happen now, not tomorrow. Tomorrow is a loser's excuse.'
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If you enjoyed Fashion's story, purchase the book, 50 Interviews: Young Entrepreneurs (Volume 1) for more stories about teenage entrepreneurs.