Jenk Oz, CEO of iCoolKid
Aged 11, Jenk Oz launched his online lifestyle hub for the Generation Z audience with the support of his mother. BQ caught up with Jenk, now 13, as his company passes its 18-month mark, about balancing school and the importance of the right team.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
iCoolKid is a multi-channel, digital lifestyle hub for young people. We create cool, engaging content for a Generation Z audience covering news from the world of tech, fashion, science and more – and are currently the largest website of our kind. It’s a really safe, fun, all-inclusive place for kids like me to hang out and feel inspired to try new things. Everyone is welcome, and we promote positivity!
What did you do before you started this business?
Well, as I launched the business when I was 11 years old, the simple answer here is that I was at school! I first came up with the idea for iCoolKid when I was eight years old, and worked with my mum and an excellent team to develop it before ‘going live’ in May 2017.
What inspired you to start up?
I initially came up with the concept for iCoolKid as a way to share information with my school friends about what I was doing at the weekend/after school. I’ve always had a wide variety of interests and many of my friends wanted to join me on my adventures. I worked with my mum to put together a list of my upcoming events, which she then shared with my classmates' parents. From here we thought, hey if only there was a digital platform where kids could find out about the best and coolest events in town… wouldn’t that be amazing! I then presented the business idea later that year during a school ‘show & tell’ assembly – and after lots of thinking time to decide whether to go forward, iCoolKid was born.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
I’d probably say ‘iCoolKid is a timely and engaging online space for young people, which provides information on the coolest things to do and see - all in one place. It inspires young people to do more, and be more creative!’
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I get so much support from my family and friends. My mum has a lot of experience in running a business and so it’s very useful to have her as the CFO of iCoolKid, because I’m still learning about the financial side of business.
Something else my mum has taught me is the value of listening to the opinions of relatives, family, friends, etc. who come from different professional backgrounds. When setting up iCoolKid, I created a ‘career board of directors’ who provided me with advice and guidance which was super helpful in the early stages of setting up a business. The idea is to select 4-5 totally different people, and meet with them monthly to talk about your ideas/your progress and see what they have to say. Remember to pick people who have good judgement and who you believe are going to give you constructive feedback!
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I have been very fortunate to have the support of my family when setting up the business. As I’m still at school, this has been invaluable to me – iCoolKid wouldn’t be in existence today without their financial and professional input.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I’m very proud of the website growing so quickly, and on an international scale. Currently, iCoolKid is the biggest website of its kind in the UK and our international engagement is growing daily. Our goal is to become the biggest website for our audience in the world – connecting young people from different cultures and backgrounds all across the globe.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
The digital media space is definitely competitive; however, as iCoolKid targets a very specific demographic, we are actually really leading the way at the moment. There aren’t many other online outlets which cater specifically for the Generation Z audience, and who provide the same quantity of specific generation Z targeted content, so it’s great to be able to offer this to our fans. iCoolKid is a unique online community and a truly unique space for kids to hang out with other like-minded individuals.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It’s something I really enjoy. However, it’s also a lot of work balancing my responsibilities on iCoolKid, school, and all my extra-curricular hobbies. There have certainly been challenges along the way, however, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have a great team and they make it so easy for me when I’m at school – we have calls every day at lunchtime so I can check in with the editorial team and discuss new creative ideas for the site.
Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?
In five years’ time, I’m hoping we’ll be a major global brand - connecting kids from around the world. As I grow up, I’ll need to make a decision about whether I’m the best ‘face of the brand’ to carry us forward, or whether I should move ‘behind the scenes’ and just focus on the business side – and we look to appoint a younger face who can fully engage with our audience.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you treat your idea like a dream today, you’ll have a dream tomorrow but if you treat your idea like a company today, you’ll have a company tomorrow. Therefore, the most important thing to keep in mind is that no dream is too big- follow your passion and don’t be afraid to be bold! If you don’t have the confidence to make your dream a reality no one else will do it for you.
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