Tyler Simon, business owner

Tyler Simon, Journalism 1 Staff Writer

When you hear the title of “Sole Proprietor or Business owner,” people don’t usually associate it with a self-employed middle school student, but that was me.

I didn’t earn that title all at one: it all started back in 2008. As a third grader, I was really into the Pokemon universe. Most of my friends were into it as well, and they collected the famous Pokemon trading cards. Being me, I had to be different. I collected stuffed animals. Of course, I could not have the ones available in the average grocery store. I needed something totally unique. I had my very first transaction through eBay when I purchased a Japanese Torchic stuffed animal. When it finally arrived, I brought it to school and I was one cool cat.

Me posing in front of my old car during a record sales day of over 20 packages.

Four years later in 2012 (many many stuffed animal purchases down the road), I discovered the selling side of eBay. I started by listing my old electronics, such as old laptops, video games, iPods, etc. I discovered soon after that I could make quite a lot of money from selling stuff online. I sat down with my parents and they gave me permission to begin listing anything we didn’t use anymore. I did the same for friends, buying their old stuff for cash and then selling it on eBay.

Eventually, I ran out of stuff to sell. This is when I began something I called the “Flip Venture.” I created numerous custom searches and search strategies that would essentially find items (such as ipads, iphones, and other electronics) that were tremendously undervalued. I looked for items about 30-40% under median price so that eBay fees and shipping charges would all be covered. I also created numerous Excel documents that tracked profits to ensure everything was running in the green. This was my first successful internet venture of which I now have several. This year I have done $43,000 in revenue across all my ventures.

Throughout high school, my business has also allowed me to gain skills in time management and organization. Playing varsity hockey requires me to start my day 4am. I wake up to pick up teammates and commute 30 minutes to my first practice of the day. After hitting the ice hard, I begin classes at Portage Northern. At lunch, I travel to the Kalamazoo Math and Science Center (KAMSC) for STEM classes. After classes commence, I fit in a few hours of studying then make my way back to the rink for another two hour practice.

My business allows me to put activities and school first and maintain my GPA as well as my bank account at the same time. eBay has done wonders for my direction for the future. It has set me on an entrepreneurial path combining my passions for sustainability, manufacturing, and business which is what I intend to pursue in higher education and my career. There are not many kids that can claim they started a profitable business at age 12, but thanks to my experiences with eBay, I can.