Meet the teen tycoon* who has become an instant millionaire after selling his first business for a seven-figure sum.
Sam Richards, a 15-year-old Gold Coast entrepreneur*, is the envy of his schoolmates after banking $1 million for the sale of his recycled plastic, fancy glassware company Bellaforte, which he launched two years ago on e-commerce giant Amazon Marketplace.
The young go-getter started the venture* at just 13 literally by accident, after dropping a tray of drinks he was carrying to his parents at their backyard pool, smashing everything.
He said he searched the internet for crystal-like plastic replacements but couldn’t find anything nice and hit upon the idea of starting his own business.
Guided by his father Phil – an accountant and also a successful entrepreneur – Sam pitched his concept to 2000 investors at an Amazon conference and raised $15,000 to found Bellaforte.
He travelled to China to source a manufacturer and the online business soon took off.
“We started off doing $15,000 in sales a month and our best month has been $180,000,” he said.
“Dad has been a big influence, but I love business and economics myself and it was my idea to start Bellaforte. It’s been really cool.”
A Year 10 student at the Queensland Academy of Health Sciences, Sam said he only had to devote a few hours a week to the business because Amazon did all the “grunt” work, including shipping and customer service.
“Amazon is like a 21st century lemonade stand, except you get to sell to the whole world and you don’t even have to attend to the stand,” he said.
Sam said he decided to sell Bellaforte so he could focus on senior high school and take the brand to the “next level” by getting its products into hotels around the world.
He struck a deal to sell to e-commerce start-up Una Brands but will stay on as a consultant* for two years.
“He was a tough negotiator*,” said head of acquisitions* at Una Brands, Yenti Kushor.
“I have dealt with hundreds of business owners, but Sam drove a hard bargain. He was driven and he knew what he wanted. It was evident that he did his research and had the numbers to back it up. He didn’t give up until we met his number.
“I was an entrepreneur at 15 but I definitely wasn’t as impressive as Sam. He’s a real inspiration and we see huge growth potential in Bellaforte.”
Sam said he had used part of his windfall* to buy a new smart watch, headphones, and tech company shares.
He also has his eye on a shiny new Tesla once he is old enough for a driver’s licence.
- tycoon: wealthy, powerful person in business or industry
- entrepreneur: someone who creates a new business
- venture: a daring, new, sometimes risky project or undertaking
- consultant: someone who provides expert professional advice
- negotiator: someone able to formally discuss and agree a complex agreement
- acquisitions: assets or objects bought or obtained
- windfall: any type of income or profit that is unusually high and/or sudden
- What is the name of Sam’s glassware company?
- Where did he launch his products?
- What was the accident that sent Sam on his path to success?
- Which e-commerce start-up acquired Sam’s company?
- The company’s best month of sales to date was worth how much?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. New market ideas
A good entrepreneur, like 15-year-old Sam, knows when there is a gap in the market for a certain product or service, and aims to fill it, like his non-breakable crystal-looking glassware. Work with a partner and think about the new rules we abide by to be Covid-safe that might open up a market for a new product or service. It could be to do with eating outside, picnics, keeping a safe distance, checking in, mask wearing and so forth. What is a product that might take off and make you a possible millionaire?!
Sketch your design and outline your product below to share with your classmates.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Design and Technologies; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking
If you were 15, and banked a million dollars selling your business, how would you ensure that money would set you up for a successful future and allow you to start up other businesses? What items would you buy yourself and your family and/or friends?
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics; Critical and Creative Thinking
What makes a good idea?
A good idea usually targets a problem and fixes it. In this case, Sam wanted to provide a solution to a problem. He broke some glasses, he couldn’t find nice plastic ones suitable for the pool to solve the problem, so he created his own.
Can you come up with a good idea that will make someone or something’s life easier or better?
In 200 words or less, can you pitch your idea to us? Include what your idea does or how it works, why it’s needed and who it is targeted at. Try to be clear and specific as you don’t have many words to use.
Re-read your pitch before you share it with a family member or friend.
Ensure you have checked over your grammar and punctuation to ensure it is correct. Then check your VCOP to really connect with your audience and create a powerful pitch