Kidpreneurs: The founder of iCoolKid
Hi Jenk, first of all let me start by saying how amazing I think you are and how excited I am to be interviewing you today, please tell me a little about yourself
Thank you, you’re very kind! My name is Jenk Oz, I’m 12 years old, and I’m the CEO of a company I founded called iCoolKid. We are a publishing, media, consulting and production company aimed at young people.
What inspired you to start iCoolKid and what is the story behind the name
The idea for iCoolKid was born when I was eight years old. I’ve always taken part in lots of fun activities after school and at the weekend - from acting, to DJ-ing, and even graffiti classes. My friends used to always ask me about what I was up to, so I decided to create a weekly email, with the help of my mum, to share with everyone so they could join in with me if they wanted to. From there, I presented the idea of curating all the coolest, on-trend content for kids my age on a single platform during a Show & Tell school assembly, and three years later…here we are!
The name comes from a combination of three things: 1) I used to watch a TV show called iCarly about kids making a web show and 2) My name is Turkish is spelled Cenk, hence why the ‘C’ and the ‘K’ are capitalised in the company name. It’s like my name is hidden within it. Lastly, we wanted everyone to feel like a cool kid when they read our stories on the site.
The site is aimed at 'Generation Z', for those who don't know how would you define a 'Generation Z' individual
‘Gen Z’ are today’s current under 18-year olds, and we are perceived as being more clued-up, knowledgeable, and switched on than any previous generation. It used to be the case that older teenagers were the ‘go to’ kids for all things cool but now, thanks to the technology we have at our finger tips and the power of social media, all young people are able to be informed, even two-year olds are using iPads! Tech products are now cheaper, safer, and easier to use than ever before, so it’s easy for kids of my age to access information and advice about what’s cool.
Like me, the iCoolKid audience knows how they want to spend their birthday and pocket money, and we are the ones older relatives now go to when they want to buy something! As we’re always online reading up on things, and sharing information on social media, we have more confidence offering our opinion about different brands, products, and even holiday destinations.
Outside the business you also attend school as well as partake in numerous extracurricular activities. How do you find the time to balance it all?
I am really busy and sometimes it can be difficult, but being at school and working on the business works in my favour. Everything I learn at school goes straight back into making iCoolKid better, not just in terms of writing skills, but I also get lots of great ideas from all my teachers and my classmates. They love to share what they are doing, as well as what they like or don’t like about the site. My school was also very kind and unblocked iCoolKid so now everyone can go on the site at lunchtime to read the articles and then share their feedback.
You have been fortunate enough to interview some incredible people since the launch of iCoolKid, who would be your top 3 people to interview and why?
They have all been very generous with their time but I must say meeting James Corden, Idris Elba and Asa Butterfield have been very near the top of the list. James was very candid and talked to me a lot about his childhood acting experiences and I came away feeling much better about doing lots of auditions and getting very few jobs. Idris was so genuine and kind, he shared a lot about acting school and doing work behind the scenes. Asa has been working hard since a very young age, he talked with me a lot about the importance of studying your craft as you need to always keep learning.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?
My biggest accomplishment with iCoolKid to date was going live. Once you press the button and realise that everyone can see your site, it’s a great feeling after all the hard word that went into it. Secondly, I have had some great opportunities come my way because of iCoolKid. There has been speaking engagements at TEDX Youth, and the Teen Entrepreneurs Conference earlier in the summer. These were new experiences for me and I would be lying if I said both presentations weren’t just a little bit nerve-wracking! I’m used to performing from my acting experience, but public speaking about my own ideas was a whole different ball game. Lastly, I was just named as one of the ‘Most Influential People 2017’ by The Evening Standard newspaper, which is crazy exciting!!
As one of the UK's youngest entrepreneurs I’m sure it must get hard and tiring, what are your top tips for keeping yourself motivated?
Having a working plan and surrounding yourself with like-minded people is a great way to keep motivated and focused. Having goals and objectives are also important for ensuring that you have the steps in place to make your dreams a reality, whether that be in school, in sport, in drama or even in creating your own business.
What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs like yourself looking to start a business?
Create an ‘Idea’ Board of Directors! This will allow you to talk things through every month and to help you bounce ideas around. Start by thinking of a group of people who are good listeners and who want to share their time and advice with you. For example, pick a friend maybe 2-3 years older than you, a couple teachers from school, your mum’s friend the lawyer, your dad’s friend the tech guru, your older cousin the fashion blogger etc... - until you have 4-5 people you can count on to give you honest advice. As these people won’t be involved in your business every day, they may see things in a totally different light. There are also lots of Young Entrepreneur Fairs and Business Camps popping up, where you can go and meet other motivated young people and share ideas. This type of event can provide great opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills and gain confidence talking about your ideas in front of others.
Social media is a very important if not the most important readily available marketing tool there is at the moment, how do you use social media to your advantage?
Social media is the best way to reach the Generation Z audience! We are really targeted with our communications making sure that all our posts are pushed out at optimum times, such as before school, at lunch times and after school. We also understand that our audience want interaction with brands and services online so we try to respond to every comment and engage and thank or followers when they get involved with our social media campaigns or content. Two-way communication with Gen Z is very important for keeping them continuously interested!
Where do you hope to see iCoolKid in the next 3 years?
For now, we are really focused on engaging with, and growing, our followers. I want to continue to learn more about what our audience wants and make iCoolKid the best site possible for everyone aged 8-15 years old. We have plans to expand our reach on a global scale, so other young people around the world can see what we’re all about and benefit from the content we create.