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Young Entrepreneurs - Jason O'Neill

Updated on January 22, 2016
Jason O'Neill with some of his PencilBugs.
Jason O'Neill with some of his PencilBugs.

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Hi, my name is Jason O'Neill, and I am a Cash-Smart Kid! I am 11 years old, and I live in Temecula, California. This is my story.

Nine-year-old Jason O'Neill of Temecula, California, asked his mother if he could help her paint wooden items to sell at the markets, in exchange for a share of the profits.

She said no, he would have to think up his own product to sell.

So he did - and Pencil Bugs were born.

Cute critters of Styrofoam, pipe cleaners, and wire antennae, Pencil Bugs immediately appealed to kids of all ages.

Now twelve, Jason has won awards, been invited to speak to adult business organisations, been included in and ABC NIghtline story on young whiz kids, and appeared on NBC's "1 vs 100" TV show. He was upbeat about his early departure from the quiz show after answering the second question incorrectly.

That was really fun. I didn't win the money, but the host, Bob Saget, talked to me and asked me questions about my business. My Web site had 2,000 hits the day after the show aired.

Jason's mother, Nancy, feels that all the hard work is worth it.

"He's learned so much about things you never learn in school," she told the Union-Tribune. "From a very early age, Jason understood finances and savings. He's become a good money manager. He looks for deals."

The Union Tribune goes on to report that Jason's father, Don, who works from home for a Phoenix company, has helped his son understand the world of business. Jason says they go online to look at the stock market. Recently they talked about Microsoft's interest in buying Yahoo. That's important, Jason points out, because he already owns a few shares of Microsoft stock, bought with profits from his own business.

Parents who take the time to explain business and finance to their kids are laying the foundation for a life of financial success.

This venture isn't Jason's first business, either - he started at age five with a classic lemonade stand, switching to hot chocolate in the winter. Later, he charged householders a small fee to handle their recyclable items for them.

Pencil Bugs have their own website,, and Jason is already working on expanding into other PencilBugs branded product lines.

Jason not only has business smarts, he has confidence. He applied for a Young Enterpreneur award, despite being below the minimum entry age. The judges were so impressed with his submission that they created an "Under 16" category, which Jason went on to win in 2007.

Jason's advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

None of us ever imagined that my simple idea would turn into a real business but it's never too early to be an entrepreneur. If you have an idea to make something, at least give it a try. You might be surprised at what you can do!


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    • Steve LePoidevin profile image

      Steve LePoidevin 6 years ago from Thailand

      Well, I think that this is pretty cool. Schools should spend more time working on creative thinking. We could use a lot more young entrepreneurs.

    • profile image

      WoW!i!i!i!i!i!i!i! 6 years ago

      Wow!!!!!! I'm going to start designing MySpace pages 4 quick cash!!

    • create a page profile image

      create a page 7 years ago from Maryland, USA


    • profile image

      Garrett Miller - Young Entrepreneur 8 years ago

      11 years old!!! Wow! E-mail me if you're ever looking for any joint venture opportunities bud!

      Garrett Miller

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      theking2020 8 years ago

      Very interesting article shows how any idea can be sucessful

    • Inspirepub profile image

      Inspirepub 10 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I guess it depends on your perspective ...

    • profile image

      Janie 10 years ago

      not really

    • Jerrico Usher profile image

      Jerrico Usher 10 years ago from Bend, Oregon