13 Year Old Temecula Boy Makes His Mark With Pencil Bugs

Real Estate Agent with WINEormous.com



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.

Jason O'NeillPencil Bugs

Murrieta Real Estate Expert – Tom Plant, REALTOR® - Coldwell Banker Residential BrokerageActive 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.


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Comments (17)

Luke Constantino
Brooklyn/Manhattan Real Estate - Brooklyn, NY
Residential/Commercial Real Estate Brooklyn NY

I would be slapped and thrown under a bus right outside my office door if I put that on my pencil.

Apr 14, 2009 12:33 PM
Interactive 360° Virtual Tour provider for SW Michigan/360 Vision
360 Vision - Holland, MI

Tom - Incredible story...I've never heard of him before, but at the rate he is going I'm sure we might be hearing more about him in the future. 

Les Morehead Jr

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Interactive 360° Virtual Tour provider

Apr 14, 2009 12:49 PM
Rosalinda Morgan
Brookville, NY
"The Rose Lady"

Tom - Wonderful story!.  Your title attracted me since we always went to Temecula everytime we visited my son who lives around there.  Jason will definitely go places.

Apr 14, 2009 01:30 PM
Chris Fisher
Your Virtual Assistant - Concord, CA

Tom -This might be one of the coolest things you've shared so far, and that's saying a LOT since you share so many cool things!  Thank you!

Apr 14, 2009 01:32 PM
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!


What a great story; the great thing he did it all with his own ideas. I will follow him on Twitter.


Apr 14, 2009 01:32 PM
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Tom - What a terrific story about Jason and his creativity and ingenuity.  Thanks for sharing this one, my friend.  I hope you're doing well!

Apr 14, 2009 03:54 PM
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Tom ~ What an amazing kid!  I love this story - and I'm going to follow him on Twitter. I think it's just so amazing to see kids in action who have no idea that there's things they *can't* do - and therefore there isn't anything they can't do. Awesome!


Apr 14, 2009 03:57 PM
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

Hi Tom, I found your blog through Chris Fisher.  She highly recommends you and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.  This is a great story about Jason and I am following him on Twitter now too.

Apr 14, 2009 11:44 PM
Tom Plant
WINEormous.com - Murrieta, CA

Luke - You need to find a place to work where you can have more fun! You did make me laugh, though.

Les - His future looks incredibly bright.

Rosalinda - I have no doubt Jason is going places.

Chris - Thanks so much. I can't remember the last time I was this excited to share a story.

Tom - I think you'll enjoy his tweets. He's remarkable.

Jason - It was my pleasure, thanks. My love to you and the new mom.

Liz - He really is amazing. He's such an inspiration.

Ann - Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about Jason.

Apr 15, 2009 02:06 AM
C. Bartch
Newark, OH

Hi Tom, I love this story, thanks for blogging about it! I went to his website and he has a section titled 'Business Tips', love him.

Apr 15, 2009 02:59 AM
Tom Plant
WINEormous.com - Murrieta, CA

Cynthia - Thanks so much. He is a remarkable young man.

Apr 15, 2009 03:56 AM
Irene Tron
Valparaiso, IN

What a great story.  Congratulations to his mom for raising a good kid.

Apr 20, 2009 02:13 AM
Tom Plant
WINEormous.com - Murrieta, CA

Irene - He's such an inspiration. His folks deserve a lot of praise.

Apr 20, 2009 04:42 AM
Tony Balogna

This is a prime example of one way how a private, Catholic school upbringing can damage a child.  In the school I attended, the nuns would never have allowed such creativity in the classroom, especially with our learning "tools," probably citing the difficulty we would have when trying to access the eraser which would require the removal of the "bug" first, taking up valuable writing time.  So while it's wonderful to see a kid doing something creative, it's a shame to think about so many other children who have been stifled by the strictly regimented, punishment-through-violence-based teaching system of yesteryear.  The point of writing with a pencil over a pen is to be able to quickly and easily erase an error, and covering up the eraser with this "bug" would mean it would have to be taken off, then put back on, then off again, at some point dropped on the floor, picked up by someone else who won't give it back, then there's a disruption in the class, etc.  So while I think it's nice, I'm certain the nuns would think it's unproductive and a distraction.  Public schools generally allow for much more self-creativity in the classroom.  So I think I'm with Luke on this one, though it's nice to see a child becoming so successful at something that really does hamper the pencil writing process.  I mean, unless the "bug" IS an eraser, then I guess all I said is moot!  It also adds weight and who needs their pencil to be heavier?  Perhaps only those who don't like to write very much.  To someone who enjoys writing, it certainly would add extra weight and be cumbersome over a length of time.  I think it's a reflection of the times today when writing at length is done so infrequently by so many.  As a published writer myself, I know I like my writing instruments as light and streamlined as possible.  Let's face it, it's for kids!  Maybe it'll help some kids WANT to pick up their pencil instead of shun it.  In that way, it's beneficial.  To someone who loves the pencil to begin with, and uses it frequently, it may be a useless distraction.  No matter what, it's amazing that such a thing can take off like that and I'm very happy for the boy and his family.

Apr 22, 2009 06:52 AM
Tom Plant
WINEormous.com - Murrieta, CA

Tony - Jason's story is incredible. Whether you like the pencil bug or not, it's made him very successful. Just last night he said he wants to be wealthy so he can give millions to charity. He's doing this for the right reasons.

Apr 22, 2009 07:17 AM
Anthony Gargiulo
CDToaster - Manhattan, NY

  Oh, I love this kid!  He's a sweetheart.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if every successful person gave significant amounts of their wealth to the needy?  I just came back from the New York Auto Show where the Bentley Display had a $32,000.00 pen for sale.  How can ANYONE buy a THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLAR PEN, knowing that instead, he/she could have saved the lives of many hundreds of people?  And they were SOLD OUT!  They only had the cheap $7,000 pens left.  What a shame of a world we live in where people's lives can be saved for pennies a day, and people buy pens for thousands of dollars.  THAT'S what I call a real sin.  Every day 27,000 children die unnecessarily while people buy pens for 32 grand.  What a world we live in.

Apr 22, 2009 05:34 PM
Tom Plant
WINEormous.com - Murrieta, CA

Tony - Yes he is. He has a lot to teach the rest of us. It's heartbreraking to see where some people's priorities lie.

Apr 23, 2009 01:49 AM