Teen Titans 001: Brennen Bliss
18-year-old founder and CEO of PixelCutLabs
Note: The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Tell us about PixelCutLabs.
PixelCutLabs focuses on marketing strategy. We’ve been in business two years and recently redesigned the College Football Playoff Foundation’s website.
Where did the idea for PixelCutLabs come from?
There was never really an ‘aha!’ moment, I’d say. I started with a website I made for my mom, and it snowballed into getting more and more clients.
Who helped you form the business? Any mentors or early business partners?
My parents gave me a hundred dollars to start the business, and my dad paid an additional three hundred for the business registration, which I later paid back. There were no real initial investors. The business funds itself, and we’re actually looking to hit a million in cashflow this year.
I didn’t start off with any mentors, but I can say that I have a few now, some of whom were previous clients.
How did your first year in business go? What did you learn from your first year?
I wish that I had read The 4-Hour Workweek earlier. I was working crazy hours during the first year, sometimes as high as 80 per week, and after reading that book, I was able to cut back a little.
Did you ever feel like your age gave you a disadvantage as a businessperson?
I felt internally, if that makes sense. I always had internal thoughts thinking I’m not good enough, or that people weren’t going to take me seriously because I was so young, etc. It was hard with the first few clients, but with experience it became easier. Most of my clients don’t know about my age.
What lows have you experienced, and how do you believe they shaped you as a businessperson and in your personal life?
I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is lonely. It can get lonely when you can’t find people who share the same drive and passion as you. They are out there, but those people are difficult to find. In school, I didn’t really have many friends, and it was just recently that I started talking to more people.
Do you feel like those people have only started to talk to you because you’ve been so successful with your business, if they knew about it in the first place?
People at school know, because I’m sitting there working on my laptop in class most of the time, but I hope that they’re not just talking to me because of that.
Are teachers accommodating to you in class, since you seem to be working then, too?
Some are more understanding than others. I’ve taken a lighter schedule this year, and I recently rented out the office across the road from school, so it’s a very easy commute.
If you could give past yourself advice from the moment you decided you wanted to start a business what would you say? What would you tell your past self to avoid?
I think I would say there’s roadblocks ahead and not to get too caught up in them. I definitely should’ve read the The 4-Hour Work Week a lot sooner than I did. That book changed my life, and I think I just didn’t experience enough. I wasn’t able to get ahold of things and get things as done as quickly as I wanted to, but then again, I’m not complaining about where I am. I’m happy with it, even though it’s not always the easiest.
If you could give a future teen entrepreneur advice today, what would you say to them?
Can you elaborate on that?
Imagine this scenario: there’s twenty people in a room gathered in front of the host. The host says that in order to win five million dollars, you have to cook the best dinner. Ten of those twenty people will step up to the challenge, which is understandable, because they might be the only ones with cooking experience. The host tells them to bring back their meal the next day for judging, but none of those people show up because they thought everyone else was going to do so much better than them.
What if one person showed up? Even if it was the worst dinner they’ve ever made, they would’ve won the five million dollars, because they would’ve been the only ones who showed up. Ignore reality.