When Brent Comstock was 12, he didn’t exactly expect to become one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country—he was just looking to have some fun.
Now 17, Comstock was a recent guest at Rose State College Kids College summer learning camp. The camp for youths K-12 is hosted from April-July each year at the campus in Oklahoma City. Comstock, a senior in Auburn, Nebraska’s public high school, was recently chosen as a national student delegate for the 50th Anniversary United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP).
However, he’s also the CEO and founder of bCom Tech Solutions (bcomtechsolutions.com), his digital marketing and consulting business with clients nationwide.
“I didn’t have any aspirations,” Comstock told his audience, youths ages 9-12. “I liked to play with my teenage mutant ninja turtles. One day I decided I needed to do something else with my time. I went online to Google and I typed in ‘what to do as a teenager’ because I was going to be 13 and I wanted to be cool. In only three more years, I would be able to drive. I figured I’d research some cars. One of the top hits was ‘business for teens.’”
When he looked at the entry, Comstock said he was struck by how uninteresting or non-innovative some of the ideas were. There were the usual suggestions for yard work, errand running for one’s grandparents, or cleaning out garages for the neighbors. Those approaches didn’t seem to be a way to start a real business.
Brent Comstock, 17, leads a seminar of future entrepreneurs at Rose State College in Oklahoma City. “Kids College” is Oklahoma City’s premier annual summer learning camp.
“I decided there were already people in town who could mow lawns. I couldn’t be competitive. I was limited to where my lawnmower could take me,” Comstock said. “I got really interested in the whole idea of why can’t teenagers do something that adults can do?”
Instead, Comstock looked at how others his age started successful businesses. One person he picked as a model for his business notions was Ashley Qualls, an internet sensation who, at the age of 14, became a millionaire by starting a website, “Whateverlife.com.”
“When I created my business, I decided I wanted to do something that was effective and had purpose,” Comstock said.
Comstock said he looked at his hometown, Auburn, which has a population of a little more than 3,000 people. At the time, Facebook was making headlines for the 21-year-old Mark Zuckerberg. Comstock then saw a need in Auburn. Nobody in town, not a person, not a business, had a website. Comstock said he taught himself how to make websites and started building them for the town. He said he noted local features that could draw visitors, like the fact that Lewis and Clark had gone through the townsite, and found other things that might draw tourists.
“That’s where I saw the demand,” Comstock said. “Once I figured out how to do it, I mastered the skill, and then figured out how to market it.”
Comstock told the Kids College students that while they might not be allowed a drivers’ license at age 12, there is no reason they cannot have a business.
“There’s no physical or mental reason you can’t start a business at your age,” he told them. “You don’t have to have a multimillion dollar idea right away. You don’t have to be Thomas Edison. Being an entrepreneur is creating with belief and passion.”
Kids College is a part of Rose State College’s Community Learning Center. More than 1600 Oklahoma City youths enrolled in this summer’s program.
Thu, August 2, 2012
by Ben Fenwick