In 2008, I was 14 years old and my life flipped upside down. It was the start to the worlds largest economic upset since the great depression from the 1930's. Meaning - that time when some 13-15 million people (or more than 20 percent of the U.S. population) were unemployed.
They wouldn't let me know it, but my family almost hit rock bottom.
I later found out that my parents were on the verge of losing everything. We budgeted like crazies, bought the cheapest foods and to this day my parents still refuse to spend money on clothes and unnecessary wants/non-needs.
You see, in 2008, both my mom and dad worked together within the financial sector. Before 2008, we had it good. I mean, thanks to all of the soccer training we could afford I started getting recognized for my skill. My parents started travelling a lot together and for a few years we actually lived in South America where we bought a condo in the downtown sector of Panama City. But all things fall and it's about working with life instead of against it that makes the man. It is here where my story starts...
In 2009, just one year into the financial crisis, my mom started picking up more shifts as a hairdresser to help pay for food and gas. I still had to get to soccer every morning at 7 am, which if I think about the 20 minute daily commute, would have been an excruciating expense, but again - I never heard about it.
That said, it was obvious times were tough. You can't just hide living pay-check to pay-check, you can only hide the pain associated with it.
To pay for our soccer fees, my mother started reaching out to local small businesses and asked permission for my brother and I to beg outside of the store doors for any spare change coming from the exiting customers. We both had small soccer balls that we cut in half to make a bowl along with a poster to share our passion. In addition, we started calling it "tagging" instead of "begging". That way we didn't sound inferior to our friends who would ask what we did with our weekends.
Later on, by age 16, I started reading about internet companies. This was when Google had a 1.8 percent market share in the Canadian Telecommunications Industry. I must have gotten into e-commerce (online store) earlier than most, because just days after creating my eBay store I was averaging around 800 dollars in transactions every day simply selling small soccer equipment like jerseys and indoor shoes, worldwide.
I used some of my revenue to reinvest. I started building relations with Japanese men's clothing manufacturers and using their distribution system as my shipping supplier. I guess they call it "drop-shipping" now. I chose Japanese style as 2008/09 was a time when all guys could buy were black, grey and white clothes. To put that into perspective - H&M only started focusing on online sales in 2006. So I was 2-3 years behind one of the biggest brands, with some of the same style clothes, but selling them for less money... IT BOOMED.
Again, I re-invested. By grade 10 I started outsourcing some development work to India and China as I wanted to build my own site and not pay eBay for the 10% sales fee. By grade 11 I began accepting payments through PayPal, but this time over my own site. This is where the fit hits the shan.
eBay started picking up through PayPal transactions that I was using them as a product marketing and referral system to my new and improved selling platform. They also learned that I was underage.
The way around being underage at the time was to signup for the service with your father's borrowed credit card (I'm still not sure if he knows of this yet, so SURPRISE Jim) and answer every email you get from eBay and PayPal under his name.
It didn't take eBay and Paypal long to start working together in building a case against me and begin to call my home demanding for their due fees.
You could call me an idiot, but I like to feel better about myself when suggesting that I was a young teen taking advantage of a great opportunity of growth and capitalism. This is where the entrepreneurial bug was caught. It has grown to show me a life I could have only imagined and I cannot wait to find out what comes next.
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