Aged just 12 he must be the UK’s youngest CEO, yet Jenk Oz, founder of iCoolKid, has the confidence of a seasoned boardroom executive several times his age, expects his company to turnover £50,000 before his next birthday, and has plenty of startup advice for other budding young entrepreneurs.
From an early age Oz had always enjoyed a variety of outside interests, from acting and street dance, to coding, and he loved telling his school friends about it. When their interested really started to pique, he put out a weekly email, with the help of his mum, telling his friends and their parents about all the cool things that were happening over the weekend.
“I would let them know which ones I was going to check out,” he says. “That way they could join in if they wanted to.”
Then he came up with the idea of creating a digital platform with information about all the coolest and most interesting things for kids. He presented the idea during a school assembly, and it went down a storm. Oz was eight years old and with the help of his parents he turned his iCoolKid concept into a reality.
In just three years he has expanded the business into a publishing, media, consulting and production company, creating ultra cool content aimed at Generation Z.
“We are the UK’s biggest digital media platform for a Gen Z audience, sharing timely, engaging, on-trend, educational content on a daily basis,” he says. “Our aim is to inspire positivity among young people whilst being a cool, safe place to hang out online.”
A downside of such youthfulness, in business circles at least, is not being taken seriously. But Oz insists his youth has worked to his advantage.
“I haven’t had any experience of people not taking me seriously due to my age, yet,” he says. “In fact, I find it easier because people are not threatened by me, my style, or my interview questions, so they are happy to chat.”
As well as CEO, Oz is the public face of the brand, and spends a lot of time away from the office, filming daily Instagram Stories, attending Gen Z-focused events, interviewing influencers and champions, and creating YouTube videos etc.
“Anything I can do to immerse myself in more deeply into my demographic makes me more credible,” he says.
The fear of failure doesn’t faze him either. “I’ve experienced lots of disappointment and failure already as a young actor, so I don’t fear it at all. I have lots of time ahead of me and I fully expect to fail several times along the way, in fact, I may have to start ten companies before I succeed.”
Oz learned the basics of running a business from the co-founder and CFO of iCoolKid; his mum. “She has a financial background and a lot of business knowledge that she is now passing on to me,” he says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without her guidance.”
One task that does set him apart from his older peers is balancing his business life with his school life. “I’d be lying if I said that isn’t challenging,” says Oz. “They are both so important and I’m conscious of getting the balance right.”
And so far he is succeeding. At school, he will chat about new trends, gadgets, and music with his classmates, who love to share their views. During his lunch break, Oz organises a daily catch up call with his full-time team at iCoolKid HQ to discuss new ideas for the website based on what’s popular with his peers.
“Ultimately I think business and school feed each other positively,” he says. “I’m also very lucky because my school has been incredibly supportive, and even the teachers give me ideas. Running a business whilst attending school has taught me self-discipline and organisation, but it’s also a lot of fun.”
Looking ahead Oz is focusing on two key goals: finishing his studies and turning iCoolKid into a global platform across several mediums. With visitors from over 200 countries a move away from being UK-centric and becoming more global is another big target.
“Eventually I will have to find the ‘new me’, someone younger and passionate about everything ‘cool’, to help keep iCoolKid current and on trend,” he says. “I’ll definitely still be very involved in the business, but perhaps in a different capacity. I’m also keen to look into other ventures; who knows what the future holds?”
The First 30 Days – five key things Jenk Oz advises young entrepreneurs to do
Create a Story Board of Your Idea – you need to get the idea out of your head, onto paper and onto your wall, then keep adding to it for 30 straight days and allow the idea to evolve, by looking at it and thinking about it every night before bed. Think positively and think big.
Build an ‘Idea Board of Directors’– approach five people from your network, who you admire, have good judgement and you trust to give you solid advice; people who are good listeners and who will share their time and wisdom with for an hour or two every month.
Nail your elevator pitch – start with one impactful and engaging sentence summarising your idea, and follow up with three more sentences, describing the ‘Why’, the ‘How’ and the ‘What’. This can open doors and win you new supporters every time you have the chance to say them.
Know your Audience – “Once you have a clear idea of your product or service, you need to know who it’s aimed at, and how to approach them. At this stage it’s vital to think about ‘Why, Why Now and How?’ to make your idea work.”
Be Socially Savvy – “Knowledge is so accessible nowadays, and usually just a click away. Use this to reach out to influential people and champions who can help you by connecting with them on social platforms and messaging them to establish a closer relationship. You can start your business from your bedroom with a website and social media channels; all you need is an idea.”
By Alison Coleman (www.forbes.com) 29/03/2018