Balancing business with high school

Striking up a balance between studying NCEA and running an international business is a constant challenge for 17-year-old entrepreneur Toby Carr.

Carr founded his technology solutions company DeXTech three years ago when he was just 14. Now he is a couple of months away from finishing at Liston College and he’s looking forward to the future.

Despite being busy with his studies, Carr has continued to expand DeXTech and in the last six months the company has drastically increased the number of goods it is moving to business and education sector customers.

“We’re slowly broadening our product range, adding Drones, gaming equipment, audio gear and more. Our focus still remains on products such as smartphones, laptops and tablets because that is what we’ve done best with.”

A new online shop is in the works and will be up and running in three months.

Carr is almost working full time as chief executive of DeXTech, a move he will make permanently when exams finish in November. Balancing school work with his entrepreneurial career can be a challenge.

“Most of the time I’ve managed this [school and business] by simply thinking about what will really positively impact my future career, so often there has been compromises.”

Photo: Mike MacKinven 

His schoolmates and peers have had mixed reactions to Carr’s business ventures, but he hopes they can all learn something from his career so far.

“Many love how starting DeXTech has demonstrated a practical ‘education’, and has served as an example of where our education system struggles to teach usable business skills and knowledge.”

Carr may only be 17-years-old, but other than sometimes struggling to get his homework in on time, he hasn’t found his age a challenge in the world of business. Most customers don’t realise his age and the only spanner in the works is the limitations on what people under 18 are allowed to sign for. 

Any other challenge DeXTech has faced is generic to any startup, he says.

“I strongly think you’re never too young or too old to start a business, or start chasing your passion. Starting young in business gives you advanced experience and mixed with an understanding of the modern world gives you quite an unique upper hand.”

His plan for the company includes some big goals. He wants to expand DeXTech to be one of the leading tech providers in the world and use business as a medium to solve local homelessness.

“I want to have the capacity in DeXTech to take risks with people and give people an incubator to grow and demonstrate their talent.

“Beyond DeXTech, I’ll have to reassess how an impact can be made on the world, and especially see how social enterprise could fit in.”

Carr frequently speaks at events around New Zealand, covering entrepreneurship, education and changing making. Earlier this year he spoke at Tedx Auckland and will speak at the Festival for the Future in September.

He sees public talks as a way of paying it forward and get his company’s name out there.

“I like to pass on what I think I’ve learnt, particularly because I know a number of people who have in the past, and continue to, spark great ideas for me through this way [public talks].”