How a 16-year-old created a company
📍Melbourne, VIC, AUS
JOSH Brnjac couldn’t wait to finish school. So he didn’t, and created a company now worth hundreds of thousands instead.
MOST 16-year-olds don’t know what they want for breakfast, let alone what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives.
But before he’d even left primary school, Josh Brnjac knew exactly where he wanted to take his career — and quickly.
Having moved to Melbourne from Durban in South Africa when he was just seven, Josh wasted little time getting his first business off the ground.
For his 10th birthday, he has gifted a point-and-shoot camera, which he used to start snapping landscape images.
“I always had an interest in the business in one way or another, and photography came along,” he told news.com.au.
Coming from a family who valued education, Josh wasn’t able to leave school as early as he would’ve liked.
His mum, a teacher, and dad, who also worked in the education industry, wanted their son to finish schooling the traditional way and do his hobby of photography on the side.
“Coming from that generation, and in a country where opportunity is at a bare minimum, they believed in education,” Josh said.
“The first version of my photography business started by creating a website. I saved up $90 so I could pay for hosting of the website … and my parents were hugely supportive.
“The website sold a few prints of my photos, and then it started to grow.”
Josh said things started to get serious when he was just 13, and by the time he was in Year 8 at school, his company — BRNJAC Creative — started to boom.
“With the growth came management of my school work and the real work of the business,” he explained.
“Being at school meant the only time I could concentrate on BRNJAC Creative was in the afternoon, at night and in the early morning. It became physically impossible, but my parent's stance at the time was education is first.”
By the time Year, 9 rolled around, the teenager decided to drop out of traditional schooling and turned to get a “homeschool type” education online. This method — which he stuck at for 18 months — allowed him to concentrate on growing his business full time, and putting his schooling second.
“Through that time my parents’ hearts changed and I was able to leave school as a whole,” he explained. “I was younger than the legal age, which made it a tedious process. But from my parents’ standpoint, they saw more value in what I was doing (with the business) over traditional schooling.”
Today, the now 16-year-old is running two businesses on his own and employs five to six people in full-time and part-time subcontracting roles.
His original venture, BRNJAC Creative, provides small and large scale clients with innovative, forward-thinking photographic and videography services.
His second business, an online fashion retailer, is only a few months old — but is already bringing in more money than his original business concept.
According to Josh, the high-fashion eCommerce retailer GNTLMEN is on track to pass seven figures in revenue with the support of his small international team by next year.
“The past year alone, BRNJAC Creative has worked on $100,000 of visual projects,” he explained. “Within few months of opening GNTLMEN has brought in around the same.
“Together I hope to reach seven figures by 2019 … but the businesses never started off for the goal to get pocket money. My parents have been a huge help in keeping me grounded.”
The 16-year-old, who will appear at the TEDxMelbourne event in August, said throughout his short career as a businessman, his age has worked both for and against him.
“Age has been a blessing and a curse,” he said. “There have been obvious sacrifices by doing this at a young age. My social life as a younger person becomes very different and limited compared to another person.
“With my age, I found the bigger the client, the less the age thing meant. Some had preconceived notions around young people, which I totally understand. We are not fully grown up.
“But people try to take advantage of you a lot in a business. From an employee side, I have had a lot of workers leave me after finding out my age.
“But I don’t want to waste time. I want to be able to see what I can do in the world at this age and what limits I can push.”