WHILE most teenagers earn the minimum wage from weekend jobs, entrepreneur Jonathan Grubin has logged on to an online success which turned over £75,000 last year.
The 16-year-old launched his first business aged 12 offering free screensaver downloads for mobile phones.
Now his success is already beginning to show with the launch of ForFree4U.co.uk, which offers visitors free iPods and digital cameras for signing up their friends to its advertisers.
Jonathan, who lives with his family in Gosforth, Newcastle, has secured more than 55,000 members to the site in less than two years, sending off £25,000 worth of products.
The Royal Grammar School student said: “I have always been interested in websites and the ideas behind them. I thought, ‘if only there was another way I could get my hands on these goods,’ so I made a website for a bit of fun.
“I never thought it would be as successful as it has been. There are clearly a lot of people who want these products just like I did. It’s remarkable to think that I’m only 16 but already looking back at two years of running a business.”
The teenager’s success is down to a business move known as affiliate marketing, a web-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts.
DVD rental website lovefilm.com and bingo giant Gala are just some of the businesses which advertise on his website.
Jonathan added: “I partner with some advertisers, and they send me commission each time I get them a new customer. I offer visitors to my website a reward when they sign up.
“Advertisers were very quick to realise the potential of the network. Affiliate marketing is highly successful for advertisers because they only pay when they see results.
“When you run an expensive television adverting campaign, nothing is guaranteed. But with my business model, advertisers only pay their commission when they see results.”
Jonathan, who works from his computer at home, launched his first website when he was 12 offering mobile phone wallpapers and screensavers after rival sites were charging youngsters for downloads.
He also runs livenewcastle.co.uk, a resource website for Newcastle with listings, reviews and directories.
He added: “I remember receiving my first cheque, it was £10.44, and I was amazed that I had received it. The only thing I really want to do is to be able to work for myself.
“There are a lot of downsides, but there are advantages too.
“The fact that I am so young, then when I’m 20, I’m going to have a lot of knowledge and experience that most people won’t have until they are 30 or 40.”