Winner at Celebration for Young Entrepreneurs, Age Category 12-15
RJ Duarte (15) was just eight years old when he inherited an eight-yard lawn mowing business from his brother. By his third season, “I got serious and invested my savings back into my business.” A second year of plowing profits into his business yielded a client-base of 30, but the young entrepreneur was thinking bigger still.
“I began to review what I was missing, and I found all my business came from a three-block radius around my house. I realized I needed to expand, but how?” Too young to drive, RJ parlayed a $500 loan from Dad and some help from the friendly manager of a nearby mobile home park into a used riding mower with an attached retrofitted garden cart. “I was no longer the kid showing up at your door with a little red wagon. I was now the kid with a tractor towing my lawn equipment behind me.”
Today, it takes a full-time employee and an online business tracker to deliver his signature quality lawn care (and caring) to 64 regular customers, “I rarely have to call RJ [to arrange for additional services] as he checks in frequently to make sure I am OK,” writes a resident of the mobile home park where
many of his clients are elderly or disabled.
Presenting Mentor: Jeremy Ostermiller, Founder & CEO, Altitude Digital
Jeremy Ostermiller founded Altitude Digital in the midst of the Great Recession with just
$500. In three years his video platform startup was the fastest growing company in Colorado. A year later it was the fastest growing in the country. Today, it’s listed as one of the largest in the U.S., generating $100M in revenue through the “pipes” that connect buyers and sellers of 40 billion ads.
Needless to say, Jeremy believes in the power of free enterprise and he’s dedicated to making sure the next generation is prepared to succeed. “For us to move forward as a society, we need to teach youth entrepreneurship—it’s what our country was founded on.”According to Jeremy, entrepreneurs create something unique and they’re never satisfied, never comfortable. He credits his own success to these qualities plus “employees who are rock stars.” He recognizes these qualities in his mentee, a young entrepreneur “doing what he was meant to do.”