Entrepreneur Who Made First Million Before Turning 18 Explains The One Luxury People Should Blow Money On

By 05.09.16

Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson has been running a business since the age of 9. Each company has been different — he’s sold Beanie Babies on eBay, made custom party invitations, started an email service — and each venture has been more successful than its predecessor.

By the age of 18, and not even out of college, Johnson already had a million dollars in his bank account. He’s launched 12 profitable businesses and didn’t plan on slowing down.

He enrolled at Virginia Tech and lasted, well, not very long.

“I dropped out of Virginia Tech after my first semester there,” Johnson explains. “I love learning and actually love education, I just decided that 4 years in a classroom would cost me what would otherwise be 4 years in the business world.”

That same year, Johnson started an online marketplace for gift cards where people could trade them in for other gift cards or cash. The website was an instant success and Johnson was offered $10 million in venture capital.

These days, the Virginia native still has his hands in several business, has consulted Fortune 500 companies and speaks at conferences.

Q: What does it feel like to see a million dollars on a bank statement?

No different than seeing $999,999. For me, money is just a byproduct of the value you provide to others – whether it’s through a product, a service, a website, or any other business. It’s the reward not the sole purpose of any business.

Q: How long did it take you to make your first million and what is the biggest piece of advice you can give to a new investor on how to get there as fast as possible?

I started my first business at the age of 9 and by the age of 12, I was making $50,000 per year selling Beanie Babies over the Internet. I started 12 profitable businesses by the age of 21 and had made my first million before graduating high school.

Q: When did you first realize “this business idea is going to work?”

Most of my businesses started very small. Of course this is partially because I was very young and didn’t have any outside money or investors, but I believe that ultimately helped me. By starting small, with very little money then we grew using our own profits. Each business grew upon the previous one and they were all profitable. Of course if I had borrowed money, or taken on investors, then the profitability would have been far less.


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