Back in 2012, we held a video contest to recognize and reward teen entrepreneurship, dubbed “America’s Next Teen Tycoon.” Jason Li, our grand-prize winner who nabbed $4,000 in cash, impressed voters and our judges the most with his electronics-recycling business, iReTron. Second-place winner Jack Uesugi, who earned $2,000 in startup capital from VerticalResponse, also captured tons of attention with his t-shirt design business, a1000x.

What are these teen tycoons up to now, almost two years after winning our entrepreneurship contest? We caught up with Jason and Jack to find out where they’re at and how business is going.


Jason, who’s now a senior at Saratoga High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, had a banner year after nabbing the official title of “America’s Next Teen Tycoon.” He was recently named one of the world’s 50 smartest teenagers and was selected to be a 2014 Global Teen Leader by Three Dot Dash, an organization that recognizes teens all over the world who are doing extraordinary work. He and his company also are currently slated to air on national television soon! (Details about his primetime debut are still under wraps as of press time.)

1. How is business so far?

Business has been great. We’re currently earning six figures of revenue, and we’re slowly expanding. Days now have just been taking care of operations, keeping up with organic search engine optimization (SEO) and speaking at local fairs.

2. What have been some of the biggest changes for you since last summer?

The biggest change since last summer, professionally, was that we recently received an investment offer from a major venture capital firm. Most of the information is non-disclosable, but it’s been a huge step for us. Personally, I attended a summer business institute at the Wharton School of Business, at UPenn. It’s the first form of business education I’ve ever received and it reinvigorated me with not only new ideas, but the other students there also inspired me to work even harder.

3. What big project(s) are you working on now for iReTron?

The biggest project I want to try, as a senior in high school, is to offer my business experience to other high school students. I’ve formed a team of young students to compete with me in a business competition and they will have the chance to learn about financials, marketing, public speaking, pitching, etc. I’m very excited to bring iReTron to other students, and I wish I could do so as well in college.


Hailing from Hawaii, Jack experienced some enormous changes – most notably, he started his freshman year at Boston College (and getting used to living in frigid weather, brrr). Despite the distance (not to mention a full load of classes), a1000x is still going strong and growing.

1. How is business so far?

Currently, business has slowed down a bit as a result of my first year of college. It was difficult to balance studying, working on campus and social life in my first semester. But now that I have a firmer grasp of the situation in my second semester, I plan on trying to get the company going in full swing again, from here in Boston.

2. What have been some of the biggest changes for you since last summer?

The biggest change by far is how busy my schedule has been in the past few months. Over last summer, I was working in my family’s construction business, which really left me little time to work on a1000x. Before I knew it, I found myself in Boston in my first semester, and I ended up with even less time. Another problem is that all the operations are still in Hawaii, and I am about 13 hours away by plane. The fact that I am such a long distance away physically actually makes things pretty difficult. My dad is helping keep production and marketing alive and I try to make design and business decisions via email or Skype.

3. What big project(s) are you working on now for a1000x?

Something that we are working on now is making our products available on The company recently got approved to sell clothing on Amazon (which is a restricted category of selling), and we are just waiting for small technical things to be finalized before we get the complete go-ahead. This move could be a huge help because we would be able to send our entire inventory to the Amazon distribution centers, where they could handle our fulfillment process. Hopefully having our products on Amazon will help sell/market our brand, but really, we can cut the very high costs of fulfilling orders and shipping out of Hawaii. We should be able to offer Amazon shipping prices, including Amazon Prime shipping, even from our own website.

How have these Teen Tycoons inspired you? Share in the comments.

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