Hi Benjamin, and welcome to Entrepreneurship interviews. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Benjamin: Hi Christian, thanks for this opportunity. I’m Benjamin Lang, a 15-year-old sophomore, and I recently returned from a year in Israel. I do eBay and craigslist selling (ebayben.com), web design (ben-lang.com), and teen entrepreneur consulting (teenbizstarter.com).
So you recently returned to the US and started an e-commerce business. What was the first business about?
Benjamin: it’s an eBay and craigslist selling business. People bring their stuff to my house; I take pictures, take down details and post on eBay or craigslist, depending on the size of the object. Once it’s sold, I ship the item and take a commission of the sale depending on the sale price.
But how did you come up with the idea?
Benjamin: last year, my grandfather gave me a large amount of camera equipment to sell. It was a hard job, but it paid very well. So I decided that maybe I could sell other peoples stuff and make even more 😉
What’s the advantage of using your services over selling stuff over eBay on your own?
Benjamin: It’s convenient. I do all the photography, writing, listing, email and phone answering, payment processing, packing, and shipping. And I’m probably more experienced in eBay selling than someone looking for this type of service.
What are the best and the worse things when starting a business at 15?
Benjamin: the best thing is that I could say that I started a business at 15, whereas most people wouldn’t be thinking of this type of thing for many more years. The downside is that people are less willing to deal with me because I am younger than the average business owner.
You also have a Web Design business. What’s your targeted customer?
Benjamin: I target local customers who have a small business and want a nice but simple site.
How long does it take to have a site done?
Benjamin: I could build a site quickly since I use word press, but all the details take a while; editing the theme, pages, header, etc.
You had an interview done on Channel 12. How did you get it?
Benjamin: I use craigslist to advertise my business a lot, and I received a call one day through craigslist from a reporter on channel 12. they told me that they were doing a story on surviving the economic crisis and were interested in eBay sellers. The next thing I know, a reporter and cameraman were in my bedroom filming.
Still, on the subject, how do you promote your businesses?
Benjamin: I use craigslist, Twitter, Facebook, flyers, and paid local advertising. I find that craigslist is definitely provides better results, plus it’s free.
You are donating some of your income to charity. Why?
Benjamin: I try to now and then; I feel that if I am making so much money when I don’t need it that much, I should do something more meaningful with it.
You are also trying to help other teens succeed in business with teenbizstarter.com. How does this work?
Benjamin: this business isn’t working as well, but it’s enjoyable. I have “new” teen entrepreneurs contact me with questions, and we usually end up chatting on skype. I do it so I could add them to my network.
How does it feel to be networking with other entrepreneurs, interviews, and so on?
Benjamin: I love doing interviews and networking with others. I learned from Dig you’re Well before your Thirsty how crucial networking is, and I’m concentrating on networking now.
I’ve noticed you are using Twitter; how does it work as a business tool for you?
Benjamin: I joined Twitter not long ago and have been very impressed by it. It’s a great tool for driving traffic to a site; for example, I once tweeted, “any feedback on my web 2.0 site ben-lang.com?” the next day, I checked Google analytics, and I had much more views than usual.
How do you deal with stuff you don’t know and need advice?
Benjamin: I have a few connections which are good with advice, but my dad really helps me when I need advice. He is also an internet kind of entrepreneur and works for liveperson.com, kampyle.com, and conduit.com, so he knows how to answer many questions.
If you were to start all over again, would you do something differently?
Benjamin: If I were to restart, I would start at an earlier age. The stories of kids who started a business at 8-9 years old really impress me, and I would have been much more experienced had I started so early.
So what are the plans for the future?
Benjamin: My plans are “entrepreneurish” I just want to work on random projects that can become successful and hopefully make a name for myself as an entrepreneur.