I want you to try something. Do a Google search on "Jason O'Neill". Pick your jaw up off the floor - yes, he's thirteen. I visited with Jason and his mom this afternoon at Starbucks. He is one amazing kid.
I found Jason on twitter. You may know I was on the fence for quite some time about the value of twitter, but I'm a true believer now. I saw that Jason was from Temecula, which is right next door to Murrieta, where I live. I contacted him via twitter and asked if I could interview him. I then wound up arranging the interview through his manager, his M.O.M (Mother Of Me).
Jason told me he's been interested in making money since he was five years old. He sold lemonade and hot chocolate and got into recycling (which he still does). A little over three years ago, his mom and grandmother were doing a project for a crafts fair. Jason asked if he could help them and share the profits. Mom told him no. If he wanted to do a crafts project, it would have to be his own. It was then that Jason gave birth to Pencil Bugs. He made 24 of them and put them up for sale at the craft fair, thinking that would be the end of it. They sold out quickly. He started making more, and they now make them, at home, hundreds at a time.
It wasn't long before Jason started gaining attention. They put up the website and started getting orders from all over the world - Denmark, Africa, Egypt and Canada to name a few. He was a contestant in 2007 on NBC's short-lived 1 vs. 100 game show as was called "The Kid Mogul". Forbes.com named him one of the Top 10 Role Models Under 18. Forbes magazine will be doing an article about him. He received "Young Entrepreneur Of The Year" award in 2007 at age 11. It was a contest designed for those 16 and older. He speaks at various events and has hooked up with Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the Chicken Soup For The Soul book series. Mark is including Jason in an upcoming book called The Richest Kids In America. Did I mention he's thirteen?
So many things impressed me about Jason. He's got his head screwed on straight. Mom Nancy says the priorities they have given him are "school, being a kid, and then business". As he told me "You're only a kid once". His school mates just don't get it. They think it's a little hobby he's doing. Make no mistake, it's a full fledged business. In addition to Pencil Bugs, Jason has bookmarks and greeting cards. His future plans include board games, video games, cards games, a cartoon and maybe even a movie. I wouldn't bet against him. He works now not because he has to (he's thirteen), but because he wants to. He wants to work as an adult because he wants to, not needs to. Jason also believes in giving to charity, as long as all the money goes to kids, not salaries or administrative costs. He has given to Hugs Foster Family in Temecula and to Rady Children's Hospital.
Jason hopes to encourage other kids to stretch, adding if you sit on your ideas, you don't know what you might miss. Jason set up his twitter account in December of last year, and now has more than 1500 followers. You can follow him @pencilbugs. I do. His tweets are worth reading.
Murrieta Real Estate Expert – Tom Plant, REALTOR® - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Active Rain Ambassador (951) 907-9701
It would be my honor to show you the incredible Temecula Valley, a place I’m very proud to call home.