Young Entrepreneurs - Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson, age 9, on TV with his first business

Cameron age 19 - after the sale of CertificateSwap.com.

Cameron's Previous Businesses

NOTE: Several of these websites and businesses may still be live and in operation, but Cameron is no longer associated with any of these websites.

TrueLoot.com 2004

CertificateSwap 2004

KazaaGator 2003

AimBuddy 2003

ChooseYourPrize.com 2002

Zablo.com 2001

SearchOmega 2001

VoteStation.com 2001

SurfingXChange 2001

SurfingPrizes.com 2000

EmazingSites 1999

MyEZShop.com 1999

MyEZMail.com 1998

Cheers and Tears/ Beanie Wholesale 1997

Cheers and Tears Printing Co. 1994

It's said that even as a toddler, Cameron was interested in making money and he had always been able to sell any product put in front of him. At the age of 7, he would sell vegetables from his red wagon door-to-door to neighbors.

When he was eight years old, he wrote a letter to Donald Trump. (He tells the story of what happened in this video.)

Cameron Johnson started his first serious business at the age of 9, when he added the words "made by Cameron Johnson" to the back of 50 party invitations he had made for his parents, using Photoshop.

By age 11, through his printing business, Cheers and Tears, Cameron had generated several thousand dollars in savings.

After some shares as a Christmas gift the year he was 11, he became very interested in the stock market and learned all he could about how it worked. He soon sold the few shares his parents had given him and also invested more than $1,000 of his own money into companies of his choice. In just a few years' time, he had multiplied his investment seven times.

When he was 12, Cameron offered his sister $100 for her collection of Beanie Babies, which he sold on eBay for $1000. He then contacted a wholesaler, and continued selling Beanie Babies on eBay and his Cheers and Tears website. Within a year, he had another $50,000, but he stopped selling Beanie Babies when he started junior high.

"It wasn't cool to be selling Beanie Babies in junior high," he explains.

At 13, he used part of his saved capital to start My EZ Mail, an email-forwarding service. It was designed to help young people protect their identities online. The money was used to pay a programmer to develop the system, and within two years My EZ Mail was generating $3,000 per month in advertising revenue.

In 1997, Johnson joined forces with two other teen entrepreneurs, Aaron Greenspan and Tom Kho, to create Surfingprizes.com. This business sold scrolling advertisements which appeared at the top of a user's web browser. Within a year, Surfingprizes.com was pulling over $15,000 a day.

"I was 15 years old, and receiving cheques between $300,000 and $400,000 a month," says Cameron.

After starting college at Virginia Technical Insitute, Cameron was struck by another bright idea. Together with friend Nat Turner, he launched CertificateSwap.com, a site which allowed users to sell or exchange unwanted gift ceritficates.

They turned down $10 million in venture capital, because the conditions attached to it were too onerous, choosing instead to sell the business in 2004 for an undisclosed six-figure sum.

Cameron's latest book, You Call the Shots: Succeed Your Way--And Live the Life You Want--With the 19 Essential Secrets of Entrepreneurship, was released in January 2007.

Cameron's latest project is MillionaireSecrets.com, an online community giving entrepreneurs the resources they need to start, grow, and profit from their business.

He also serves as a Board Member to Jobs for Virginia Graduates, a non-profit organization helping high-school students stay in school and provide work-based learning experiences.

Cameron Johnson in Japan for the launch of his biography, "The 15-year-old CEO" - written in Japanese, it became a Japanese bestseller in 2001.
Cameron Johnson in Japan for the launch of his biography, "The 15-year-old CEO" - written in Japanese, it became a Japanese bestseller in 2001.

When Cameron was a freshman in high school, and Surfinprizes.com was making $15,000 a day, he was asked to become an Advisory Board Member to FutureKids, a Tokyo-based company and Sega of America who at the time, built the Sega Dreamcast Console. He consulted both companies for a number of years. In August, 2000, he was approached by a best-selling Japanese author who asked if he could "ghostwrite" Cameron's autobiography. He agreed and the book was published several months later, and was an instant best-seller in Japan.

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Comments 11 comments

vreccc profile image

vreccc 8 years ago from Concord, NH

Sometimes I wonder if these kids are lucky or if they really have a drive that is rare. Funny thing, when I lived in China I could buy Beanie Babies for a buck. My mother and I had a ring going for few months. I would buy them for a buck and she would sell them to her friends for $10, $20 and $50 a piece. It was good while it lasted. But hey!!! I never created a website that made $15,000.

dang it!!!!!

Jonathan


Inspirepub profile image

Inspirepub 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

I think there is always money on the table for anyone who actually follows through and makes an idea happen.

The question is why do some follow through, and others let their ideas die a'borning, or starve for lack of effort invested?

But hey, Cameron get out of Beanie Babies because they weren't cool - maybe it's not too late to fluff up your Chinese contacts and start your own Beanie Baby empire ...

Jenny


vreccc profile image

vreccc 8 years ago from Concord, NH

Yeah!!!! That train left the station years ago.


djtphn1 profile image

djtphn1 8 years ago from Riverside County, California

Interesting hub...


best of the web profile image

best of the web 8 years ago from US

Good one.

Thanks for sharing


jhs129 8 years ago

What an INSPIRATION!! I'm going to order his book from Amazon now


Missy 8 years ago

I kept wondering the story behind dot com Cameron. I wondered why his site wasnt listed on Oprah's Big Give, the tv show.

I'm not sure why his URL isn't listed, but thanxs for the background details on Cameron. Nice job!

Missy


Inspirepub profile image

Inspirepub 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Thanks, Missy, glad to be of service!


Affiiliate Chad 8 years ago

Thanks for the story it really was inspiring.


K Rajamanickam 5 years ago

I am an Ex Army man from India. Retired from govt service in April 2004. Ambition of my wife is to do my last rites in own house. In the anxiety of a house I have joined and arranged down line members in the National Federation of Blind and Manav Foundation said to be for the backward community, with a high hope of getting incentive while serving the poor and needy people but they have cheated making loss of my entire pension benefits besides run into debit of more than 8.5 lacs in the process of coming out of the trap. As I have no source to repay the loan and my meager pension is not sufficient to pay interest on loan amount trembling with fear and I am in the street for daily bread and needs. Torture of down line members and mental agony of loan some time thinking of suicide also. I earnestly appeal to the enthusiastic young benevolent philanthropist to arrange generous help to enable my family to come out of the debit trap at least. Help may be in any form as like. A line of reply is solicited.


Alan Brown 5 years ago

People always have unmet or poorly met needs. Ask them and they'll you.

Figure out how to meet them in a scalable way and you have a business.

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