Fun_People Archive
11 Apr
Today's Entrepreneurs Are Young -- But Just How Young?

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 100 12:38:40 -0700
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Subject: Today's Entrepreneurs Are Young -- But Just How Young?

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	-- by Mickey Guisewite (View from the Middle) October 17, 1999

The other night I had the moment every adult role model dreams of when I
picked up the phone and heard my 14-year-old niece's urgent-sounding voice
on the other end of the line.

"I need your help, Aunt Mickey!"

I paused before I spoke, savoring the moment.  The young innocent seeking
advice from the older, wiser aunt.

"Yes, go ahead," I replied, imagining us in soft focus like a Hallmark card

"I've got a problem," she said.

I instantly summoned all of my older, wiser aunt speeches:  The
"There-Are-Other-Fish-in-the-Sea," speech ... the
"If-We-Don't-Dare-to-Fail-How-Can-We-Succeed" speech ... the
"Tomorrow-is-a-New-Day" speech ... the --

"How much do you think I should charge Toys R Us to advertise on my Web

"What?" I blurted into the receiver, the Hallmark moment disintegrating
into thin air.

"The Pokemon Web site I run!" she exclaimed.  "Toys R Us e-mailed they want
to advertise on it!"

"What?" I heard myself saying again.

"Well, you know I'm getting 50,000 hits a day."

"What?" I repeated.  Then, in fear of losing my older, wiser aunt status,
I spoke the only words I could think of to redeem myself.  "Oops.  There's
my other line.  Bye."

I sat in silence thinking about the unusual prospect of a 14-year-old girl
having a business deal with a major toy company.  And then I quickly called
a friend in the advertising business for help.

"Can't talk to you now," my friend replied.  "I'm on the other line with
my 17-year-old nephew trying to help him out with a Web page design deal
before tuba practice."

I ran next door to my neighbor's.  "What you need is a good attorney," she
said.  "Just like we got Andrew when he trademarked his graphics package."

Reeling, I went home, plopped myself down on the couch, and sat considering
the newest crop of entrepreneurs.

Me, jealous?  No.  I was jealous five years ago when I started seeing all
of the magazine cover stories about 25-year-old wunderkinds making millions
on software programs before they've seen their first wrinkle.

But now I'm just plain stunned.  I had always thought that before making
a fortune in cyberspace a person should at the very least have gotten her
braces removed.

However, once again, the computer has proven me wrong.

Now, as I wander through the mall, I will look at the youngsters shuffling
around the food court in their baggy pants, and wonder if one of them has
a $25,000 limit on his VISA.

Or if the girl standing at the pay phone isn't jabbering with her boyfriend,
but rather, is wrapping up a deal with Bill Gates.

And when my niece calls her older, wiser aunt seeking advice, I now know
just what I'll say:

"You need a business partner, sweetie."

(Write to Mickey Guisewite at

Copyright 1999 Mickey Guisewite.  All rights reserved.

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