TiEcon 2012 Speaker Highlight: Cameron Cohen – Entrepreneur Philanthropist, a Child Prodigy

In Nov 2011, Thomas Suarez, a 12 year old 6th grader, gave a talk at TEDx on how to develop iOS apps. Leanna Archer decided she wanted to become a hair-care mogul at the age of 11 and by the time she was 14, her company had revenue of more than $100,000. 14 year old Robert Nay's first game hit 2 million downloads within 2 weeks of launch. 13 year old Asya Gonzalez launched a T-shirts & apparel company with the motto - "Buy a t-shirt, save a child". Entrepreneurship, it seems, is getting younger by the day. It is these ranks of young, budding entrepreneurs that Cameron Cohen joined, when at the age of 11, he created and launched his first iPhone app - iSketch.

If there are so many young 11, 12, 13 year old entrepreneurs out there, what's the big deal of yet another one joining the ranks, you might ask. What makes Cameron Cohen, the then 11 year entrepreneur stand out is not so much that he created an iPhone app and it made money on the app-store. It also wasn't that he learnt how to write it and built it when lying immobilized in a hospital bed when recovering from a leg surgery to remove a bone-tumor from his leg. But what makes Cameron Cohen stand out is that of the $50,000 the app made, he decided to donate $20,000 to the Chase Child Life Program at the Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, where he had his bone tumor surgery. A noble gesture indeed by a young pre-teen so that the hospital could purchase MacBooks, iPads, iPods, and video games for teen and preteen patients to use during their stays.

"When I was in the hospital, I had my computer and iPod Touch to distract me. But I saw so many other kids who didn't", said Cohen. "The last thing you want to do is think about what happened or what operation you have coming up. You want to be distracted. So when I saw money coming in from iSketch, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give back."

When recovering from the bone tumor surgery at the Mattel hospital followed by a nine-month recovery period in a hip-to-toe brace, Cameron tried passing his time by using various apps to draw and doodle. When he couldn't find any good, reasonably priced apps, he decided to build one himself. But there was a hitch, he had never done iOS programming before. Well, he was an 11 year old, so no wonder. He asked his parents to buy him some books so he could learn iOS programming. He taught himself Objective-C to build the iPhone app and built, what he later put on the Apple app-store for $0.99 - the app iSketch. He built and put it up for $0.99 so a lot of kids could buy it, when the $5 or $10 apps were not something they could afford.

What is admirable about Cameron Cohen is his industriousness, his fearless attitude towards learning new things, building and doing something he has never done before, turning adversity into something constructive, fueling his growth and learning. And when it happened to make him some money at that young an age, instead of saving it for his college tuition, or buying toys and gear, giving it away to the needy.

Come hear this child prodigy and a modern-day young Warren Buffet, speak at this year's  Tiecon (2012) at the Tie Youth's forum, where he talks about Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs. Bring the young Entrepreneurs in your home and/or sponsor other young ones in your neighborhood for just $50. A small investment of $50, that could create yet another Cameron Cohen, a Thomas Suarez, or a future Warren Buffet, is a small price to pay indeed.

A blog by Gargi Nalawade, Founder & CEO of Seplaz

Posted by TiEcon Team at May 8, 2012 10:24:44 AM
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