High schools often lock down creativity in exchange for a system that keeps everyone in check. While processes and rules are important for schools, they can be overemphasized. The result keeps some of the brightest minds from fully achieving their potential. But some students are starting to work around the restrictive environment of eight-hour school days and corporate age restrictions.
At 17-years-old, Allan Maman and Cooper Weiss are already successful entrepreneurs. Four months ago they launched Fidget360, a company now valued at over half a million dollars while operated out of a basement.
I spoke with Maman and Weiss to find out more about how Fidget360 got started, how they became successful so quickly, and what it’s like running a business in high school.
Ishan Goel: What is Fidget360 and why did you create it?
Maman and Weiss: The idea of Fidget360 sprouted from trying to find something to help individuals with ADHD. After testing many competitive products, we realized that the items were overpriced, unreliable and didn't work well. We found a niche in the market and took action. The product we produce is a fidget spinner, a serene instrument that provides a smooth yet fast 360-degree motion controlled with your fingers. Many people tell us it decreases stress and anxiety. Our spinners have also been purchased as novelty gifts. The fidgets are made from 3D printed plastic and bearings.
IG: How have you grown so quickly?
M and W: We currently have over 150,000 followers on Instagram and reach hundreds of thousands of impressions daily. Our videos go viral within hours and often appear on people’s explore page (an Instagram function that recommends videos for users). We have accomplished this by reaching out to pages and influencers to post our advertisements, created through Instagram. We make sure that the ad has good flow, music and eye-grabbing content. Our product has shipped to every state in the U.S. and to over 35 countries. We also sell our fidgets in some local stores and plan to expand to new markets soon.
IG: What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
M and W: Take action and seize the moment. We launched many businesses before Fidget360 and had more failures than successes. From each failure, we learned valuable lessons. The only difference between failing now vs. failing when you’re 30 is that now, you don’t have to pay for rent, loans etc. Additionally, the human brain’s learning ability slows around age 20-25. It's important to gain as much knowledge possible early on. Also, it's not all about the money. Building credibility and experience as a teenager is so much more valuable than a few extra dollars.
IG: Is it troubling running a successful company while in high school?
M and W: It's more tiring. We run every single aspect of the company including production, marketing, social media, customer service and more, all while dealing with school and tests. So we lose sleep. During the week, we work on our business from 3:00 p.m. to at least midnight, and even longer on weekends. We employ over 20 students from our school to help with production. We keep our company’s success quiet around school and our teachers are not aware of our business responsibilities. As a result, we’ve gotten into a bit of trouble with school administrators because of trying to manage our business and school life.
We tend to think of teens like Maman and Weiss as unique. But what if they weren’t? If high school students were given more freedom and encouragement to pursue ideas now, we could be hearing even more success stories like theirs. Why are we allowing schools to stop this from happening?
The average high school student sits in classes and then works long hours at minimum wage only to make pennies and dimes. As Maman and Weiss admit, abandoning such norms to pursue an idea while in school can be challenging. And that is exactly why they are good examples of why the system must change. We should encourage students to get out there, be creative and change the world — starting now. The sky is the limit and age is nothing but a number.
Follow Fidget360 on Instagram @fidget360 or purchase their spinners online at fidget360.com