Pay it Forward

A young Palos Verdes student launches his career—and an inspiring website—in an effort to encourage Generation Z to embrace their inner entrepreneur.

  • Category
    People
  • Written by
    Zoe Alexander

Jake North is a thoughtful, well-spoken CEO with a busy career, despite having a bedtime of 8 p.m. Only a Chadwick Day School fourth-grader, he was the youngest participant in The Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA). Placing second in the competition, he secured a grant allowing him to create and launch startmeupkids.com.

Inspired by his grandfather’s advice, “The trick in life is to find something that you love to do,” Jake combined his love of technology, design and philanthropy into a website that, he says, “will educate kids about things like philanthropy and entrepreneurship.” Jake showed an early interest in technology, creating his first website prototype by the age of 5. He also enjoys fundraising and student council.

So when Jake heard about the YEA program, he was very excited. But there was a catch—the program was only open to grades six and higher. However, because the YEA was new to Palos Verdes, they secured an exception from the national headquarters to allow Jake to participate.

The YEA class, which Jake counts as the highlight of his year, met weekly throughout the school year and required students to develop a business idea, perform market research and write a business plan. When Jake’s mom, Jennifer, realized the scope of Jake’s workload, she asked him if he was sure he wanted to participate. He replied, “Why
wouldn’t I?”

Jennifer says, “As a parent, sometimes you don’t know what your child is capable of until they are called to action.” The final phase of the class required students to pitch their business idea in a live presentation to a board of investors.

Jake impressed the investors and secured the full funding he requested. He went live with startmeupkids.com two months later. He now operates the website, with friends contributing articles, and plans to grow it. He also relies on user feedback, saying, “That’s been one of the main things that helps us along in the process. It helps us analyze what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong, and how to make it even better.”

Jake is grateful for his opportunities and has a genuine passion for giving back to the community. As his grandfather advised, Jake does what he loves and, as he pledged in his presentation, he plans to “make a difference in this awesome world we live in.”

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