Schoolboy project hits the big time

Eat your heart out entrepreneurs: two year 11 students, aged 15 and 16, who started their tech company as part of a schools entrepreneur competition, claim sales have topped $1 million.

Two teenage boys, who won a young entrepreneur competition in 2014, say revenue has hit $1 million, and they hope to increase overseas sales this year.

Sixteen-year-old Toby Carr, and 15-year-old Elliot Smith started their company DeXTech as part of the annual, national Young Enterprise Competition last year. They didn’t expect to win the competition – or the prize money.

But now they claim turnover for the trading and website development company has topped $1 million, with sales both internationally and locally.

Toby says the introduction of bring your own device (BYOD) programmes in hundreds of New Zealand schools will bring opportunities for DeXTech, which sells computers, laptops and phones, as well as sister site DeXProTeX, which sells cases and screen protectors online.

“Originally clients were your average consumer which we would reach via Facebook Advertising. Many original clients were gained via word of mouth about what I was doing, opening many opportunities for growth,” he says.

The company, which offers free shipping, expects to be supplying more international clients and stocking a wider range of products this year.

The company got started because of the boys’ long-standing interest in fixing problems with phones, and websites. 

“I had also been doing some very low-key trading prior to officially launching the company, which gave me the base for what products would be viable and which wouldn't.”

The Year 11 students reached into their personal savings to start up the business under the Young Enterprise scheme.  They say they saw a gap in the market when they noticed that most websites cost $700 or more, and found they could make them cheaper.

“We went out and sold websites to companies around Auckland who didn’t have one, and then we actually starting selling smart phones through that,” says Elliot, who was part of the Liston College Young Enterprise team which founded DeXTech.

As the 2014 winners, the boys won $200 each in gift vouchers, $1000 prize money to split between them, as had their costs covered for their trip to Wellington.

Bryan Choromanski, head of the business department at Auckland’s Liston College, says that he and the school are proud of the boys’ achievement.

“When I spoke to one of the conveners she said that to me, that after doing the interviews with the boys, they were heads and shoulders above the others,” says  Choromanski. “They should be really stoked with themselves.”