The 20-Year-Old CEO

Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Opinions Posted Sep 25, 2015 by Liza Vilnits

I recently attended a networking event at Boston University that brought together young adults from the school’s Summer Startup Accelerator program and their entrepreneurship group, BUzz Lab. Before I knew it, I was hearing stories left and right of the new inventions and companies these individuals had not only envisioned, but had already began building. Some of the ideas that were being turned into businesses included a Craigslist-type resource focused on selling fashion and furniture, but only for students; an interactive game that teaches children how to deal with asthma; a scientific game that challenges students to get creative with magnets; and many more creative approaches to solving common challenges.

hello-my-name-is-nametag-mainI was impressed by these students, but what really threw me off was shaking hands with these inspiring individuals and hearing them introduce themselves as CEOs and CTOs of these companies. It’s not like I have a lot of years on them, but it was a bit unnerving meeting somebody younger than me and still in college who introduces themself as the CEO of company. I’m still not sure if the experience made me jealous and insecure or intrigued and inspired (or some combination).


As a Millennial myself, I often feel mixed up with emotions. There’s a lot of pressure out there to come up with “the next big thing.” But at the same time, there are also so many opportunities, making it easy to think in the mindset of having “endless possibilities.” What’s key is being able to identity a problem and a need for a solution. Just earlier this week, I read an article about a 16-year-old high school student who created a cheaper, faster and more efficient test for detecting the Ebola virus. Talk about mind-blowing.

So in thinking more about business and all of the startups formed my college grads, I wanted to know why. What’s the motivation there? I’m not sure anyone can really answer that, but I’d like to think that it has something to do with passion. We have so much passion for so many different aspects of life, that naturally, that passion will manifest itself into innovation.

According to Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey, out of the 7,800 Millennials surveyed, 75 percent believe businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than helping to improve society, i.e. passion for creating a better place for us to work, live and have fun in. Also, only 28 percent of Millennials feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills, i.e. passion to challenge oneself.

Although it can get annoying hearing about random new apps that help people do the most bizarre and unnecessary things, try to relieve that frustration by thinking about the passion that fueled the creation.