Think back to what you were doing in high school. Pretending to study, possibly? Not-so-subtly sneaking out on weekends? Walking kilometres to the beach barefoot on 40-degree days because you possessed the awful combination of stubbornness and stupidity? Most likely a yes to all of the above.
Now, to put that into context, meet Connor Cameron – the high school student who has founded his own bloody start-up company at the age of 16. Let that sink in. At 16, Connor’s gone and dipped his entire foot in the entrepreneurship pool – that warrants bragging rights over the next 60-odd years.
Known as Stakk, Connor’s start-up is designed to give hard-working students the opportunity to pick up jobs like lawn mowing, cleaning and gardening while being paid genuinely decent money – from $25 per hour.
We spoke with Connor to get the ins and outs of his business venture and to discuss the importance of a service like Stakk.
I got inspired to create Stakk because… as a student, I knew exactly how hard it was to find work that fit busy schedules, exams and the like. It took for me to find out how badly others wanted to hire us for me to realise that a platform like Stakk was something people wanted.
What gave me the motivation to have a crack was… the fact that my peers all wanted something like this out there in the world, and I had better access than anyone to the students.
The hardest step to get it up and running would have been… convincing people that they could trust Stakk, obviously the hiring of students is a grey area, so we’ve done our best to make sure people are well aware of exactly what we do.
When I discussed my business plan, the reaction was… mostly positive. When I spoke to family and important people in the space, many had really constructive feedback and are still mentoring me to this day.
To help bring Stakk to life, I had to… sacrifice a lot of my own time, as everyone does when they start a business. Sometimes I struggled to separate school work and the business, getting distracted in class by a marketing idea was commonplace, but I think I’m in a good spot now.
I decided on a fair hourly rate for students by… discussing it with friends and students from around Sydney, and through my own personal experience. This led me to a number that I think is reasonable for both sides of the marketplace.
The feedback I’ve had from the startup has been… overwhelmingly positive. There have been many speed bumps along the way but it’s good to have so many people in my corner.
The types of jobs listed on Stakk… vary, the major ones include lawn mowing, cleaning, gardening, dog walking, pet sitting, etc.
The students who use Stakk have… all been personally vetted and are required to maintain a high review rating, thankfully we are yet to receive a negative review.
My goal over the next five years is to… become the leading source of employment for high school students in the world.
I plan to achieve it by… building a community of people here in Australia and overseas that are passionate about what we are doing at Stakk.
The main struggle of students these days is… managing their work and school lives, particularly when the latter can fluctuate.
What non-students need to remember is… these students are passionate about what they do.
My biggest hiccup so far has been… burying thousands into a website that had a faulty process. However I think we came out of that even stronger than before, shifting to a completely new site that makes it really easy for people to hire, and students to find work.
What keeps me motivated is… predominantly the customer reviews. It is really empowering to know that what I’m doing has helped people.
I plan to keep pursuing my entrepreneurial goals by… sticking with Stakk and seeing where it takes me, past high school.
I balance study, my personal life and my work by… doing school and Stakk work in different places. It sounds a bit weird, but I find if I separate the workspaces I can focus more on the task at hand.
The time of the day I seem to be most productive is… really early in the morning.
Being a startup founder in high school could give me an upper hand because… I’ve found I’ve gained a lot of knowledge that I wouldn’t have found in a classroom.
And can be a disadvantage because… I have a lot less time than my peers, factor in sport and other commitments and it really becomes a stretch to keep school marks up.
Some misconceptions I face as a teenage entrepreneur are… that I can’t handle myself when it comes to customers and stakeholders.
The best piece of advice I’ve received is… not to let the few people who aren’t interested in you, keep you from helping out those that are.
The best piece of advice I can give is… dive into any ideas you have, because if you give everything to it, the worst case is scenario is you come out the other side with a little more experience.
My future plans for Stakk are… indefinite. I hope to keep building the business and help people out along the way, but I guess we’ll see how far I can take it.
Connor Cameron, kicker of goals and a good reason for people in their 20’s to feel like they’ve accomplished zilch.