15 year-old builds $3.5 million tech startup in Missouri
Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
His interest in Information Technology (IT) began with a video editing course taken in third grade.
Five years later, our Hazelwood, Missouri talent in 2010 founded his own business while then just an 8th grader.
This venture, now three years later in 2013, has grown into a global enterprise worth around $3.5 million with 150 contract employees around the world.
He is young, gifted and Black. Jaylen Bledsoe is founder and chief executive officer of the start-up Bledsoe Technologies, LLC, an information technology consulting company.
According to Hazelwood Patch editor Candace Jarrett in her March 12, 2012 posting, Jaylen’s IT company specializes in web design, computer repair, search engine optimization, voice recordings and consulting.
Notes Cicely Haire in her September 5, 2013 Uptown account, Jaylen’s focus on start-up businesses, entrepreneurship, Venture Capital Funding and directed marketed platforms are targeted towards small and mid-size businesses.
Haire shares that under this now young high school sophomore’s leadership, Bledsoe Technologies, “has achieved consistent revenue and client growth quarter over quarter.”
While an elementary student at Hazelwood West Middle School, Jaylen was a member of GALACTIC, the Hazelwood School District’s (HSD) gifted education program.
As quoted in Jarrett, Jaylen’s father, Curtis Bledsoe, said that, “I don’t see many eighth graders do the things that he does. But it’s all his doing. I’m very proud of him.”
GALACTIC director Mara Berry in an HSD statement recalls: “Even as early as third grade, it was clear that Jaylen was uniquely focused on where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do.”
She adds that, “I think the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings in our elementary gifted curriculum really paid off with him.”
The Patch writing further reveals that while on vacation in Florida a few years ago, he purchased $200 worth of textbooks on Hypertext Mark-Up Language and Hypertext Preprocessor Code to help him expand his web hosting and web building expertise.
This investment ultimately led to one of his earliest clients.
“I was in charge of marketing and website design for my cousin, Linzer Gray, who is a pop and rhythm-and-blues singer,” he says.
As though heading your own company and attending middle school full time is not enough to fi ll one’s day, Jaylen’s list of middle school extracurricular and civic activities included serving as the vice president of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association for two years, Student Council president for three years, director of technology for the school’s audio-visual programs, and president of the St. Louis chapter of the National Youth Rights Association.
He additionally held membership in the National Junior Honor Society, Leaders for Social Justice, and the Wyman Teen Leadership Program.
This than middle schooler also found time to teach a computer class at the school on Thursdays.
Jaylen currently attends Mary Institute & St. Louis Country Day School in Ladue, Missouri, as cited in a “Personal Profile” link, and visions that as he advances through his secondary years, he will, in Jarrett’s words, “be able to train and eventually bring on students with like minds into his company to serve as a team.”
At present, Jaylen works from his parent’s home and has four employees – two local and two in India.
He also has an attorney.
As cited in Patch: “I realize every kid doesn’t have an opportunity to start his or her own business at age 13,” he admits.
“I did it on a very small budget.”
Believing that the key is taking an idea and turning it into action, this resourceful teen positions that, “It’s an adult world out there. We can all do the same thing.
But you have to have the right amount of dedication.”
Jarrett adds in her posting that he intends to continue further to obtain his master’s degree in law, with prospects of becoming a copyright attorney.
He also holds EDU Certification from Google for Google Apps Platform and is additionally a certified reseller for Microsoft & Lenovo Products.
Recognized for his exemplar academic excellence, leadership and accomplishment, he was honored with the “Presidential Academic Excellence Award” from President Barack Obama in 2009.
As of August 2012, he serves as Board Member of the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA).
The posting adds that, “we seek to write a new chapter and create a world where people are not judged by their birth date, but by their talent, their intelligence, and their competence.”
The NYRA, it is cited, has members in all 50 states totaling over 10,000 registered names from coast to coast.
In a Bledsoe Technology press release, Jaylen said: “There are many reasons that I’m glad to join the Independent Youth Network.
But the biggest reason is that it offers a much greater platform that allows me to assist other youth in becoming entrepreneurs.”
Additional to his mentorship by Schnuck’s grocery store chain founder and CEO Scott C. Schnuck, Jaylen says that his parents are the major influential dynamic in his life.
Both are entrepreneurs and greatly assisted in the formation of his business plans.
Jarrett notes that their hard work and dedication were modeled examples for his vision.
They also served as initial investors in Bledsoe Technologies.
Sources reveal that Jaylen plans to work with hotels for his next project, creating a mobile app that lets customers check in online and use their phones to unlock their rooms.
At age 15 and now considered a millionaire, Jaylen says in Hayley Peterson’s September 4, 2013 Mail Online article that the guiding principle to his success is his willingness to take risks:
“There’s nothing you can do as a minor that will shoot you down for too long,” the teen is quoted.
“Because you’re young, you can always jump back up and keep going,” he adds.