How to be CEO at age 17 – the story

So have you heard about the 17yr old girl who’s CEO of a 2 year old company that has revenues in seven figures, claims 1.7 million registered users and is second only to Facebook and MySpace in terms of unique visitors? No? Where have you been?

The story of is indeed inspiring. It was started by a high school going sibling duo of David and Catherine Cook during their spring break in 2005. They got an initial investment of $250,000 USD from their older brother, and they opened initially to a local high school in New Jersey … (read the complete story)

The site is very similar in structure to FaceBook and MySpace, in fact it looks like a mashup of the two, and was initially designed for students to keep in touch with one another and create online yearbooks. Two years down the road it provides social networking features like pimp your profile, Battles between users in various categories, myMag, Match (rating/matchmaking), Quizzes and video and photo uploading. Other standard features like chat, groups etc are also available. The site also generously touts the fact that it is created by teens and for teens.

So how do you achieve all this before you even get into college? Obviously the charitable (and affluent) big brother doubling as an angel investor helps. But how do you sustain that momentum and land $4.1 million in venture financing? And how was myYearBook able to wrestle away market share from already established players like MySpace and FaceBook? Was a free online yearbook enough to tap into a niche market that others had missed?

What can young entrepreneurs, especially in Pakistan, learn from myYearBook and its creators? There’s certainly no lack of talent or technical expertise. What are the chances of seeing a David or Catherine Cook rising from amongst us and achieving their dreams? Maybe these guys are onto something. And we certainly need more incubation facilities like these.

What lessons, do you think, are there to be learnt from this story?


One thought on “How to be CEO at age 17 – the story

  1. Osama A. says:

    Hey, thanks for the link to CDF and Green & White (I didn’t see the G&W link here but it still showed up on my dashboard).

    To give you a small update on CDF — we’re currently not accepting new incubation projects from external people. Our current focus is to complete the projects in the pipeline and launch them successfully before entertaining new ideas.

    However, if you work for us with one of the projects, then we give you the chance to work on your own things on the side as well, so its a kind of a win-win for everyone.

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