The next Mark Zuckerberg? Henry Patterson
Advances in technology mean it’s never been easier to be an entrepreneur. Inspired by the success of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, many are still are school when they start building their business. All week we are profiling young 'tech tycoons' who could be the next big thing in tech.
For most five-year-olds, starting a business would not even be on their radar. But Henry Patterson was different.
From humble origins selling horse manure, he now runs a children’s lifestyle brand – and he’s not even a teenager yet.
The precocious entrepreneur’s first foray into the business world was when he started selling horse manure from outside the family home.
By the age of seven he’d progressed from selling manure to selling toys he’d bought at car boot sales on eBay – his first technology-led venture.
This led to the creation of an online sweet shop which developed into a bricks and mortar store, and eventually into a children’s lifestyle brand, Not Before Tea, which he established using his earnings and £17,000 of grant funding.
A book based on the brand’s characters has been published, he’s just completed work on a second book and he’s also just signed his first licensing deal for some nursery rugs which will be available shortly.
With the variety of his ideas and his drive, it’s sometimes easy to forget he was only born in 2004.
It’s technological advances that have helped Patterson develop and grow his various businesses.
“50 per cent of our sales come from our website and Not On The High Street, and many of our customers are overseas. If they could not buy over the internet, they would simply not be able to get our products,” he explains.
But it’s not just for sales; he sees more uses for the web. He wants to continue to develop both Not Before Tea and his own personal brand, and much of this done online, including his regular updates on his YouTube channel NBTV.
“I love my video blogs and have a passion for editing, so I would be lost without technology,” he adds.
His annual turnover now exceeds £65,000 and Patterson is keen to point out that he is continually investing back into the business.
“I do get an allowance though and have bought a pug puppy,” he adds.
He looks up to anyone who is passionate about their business, and cites Moshi Monsters founder Michael Acton Smith as an entrepreneur he recently met who has inspired him.
“He made me want to do this more than ever,” he says.
But Patterson also wants to inspire other young people to follow his lead, and one way he does this is via his YouTube channel which showcases both his business life and some of his hobbies.
This allows him to provide advice and encourage youngsters to consider business as a career path.
“My personal ambition is to show young people that work can be really fun and that they must not worry about leaving school,” he says.
“They also must not let anyone tell them they can’t make a career out of a passion; for example, if they are brilliant at art then they must be an artist and there are so many ways they can make money from this.”