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Tech Stars Internet entrepreneur got his start at 15

Many teenagers in Western New York may find themselves working long hours in the hot sun this summer to make a few thousand dollars by September.
This reality does not hold true for all young people. Adrian Barret, 20, of Niagara Falls, Ont., is hoping to make that much money in one week!

No, he's not going to do it by working double shifts. No, he certainly won't be cutting your lawn or offering to walk your dog. In fact, he is not even going to break a sweat! Instead, this Canisius College student is going to amass his small fortune this summer from the comfort of his own home, sitting at his computer.

As a mere 15-year-old sophomore at Niagara Catholic High School, Barret found a way to quit his job washing dishers for minimum wage with the founding of Internet business A.J. Enterprizes, which has provided him an income through commissions earned off the sale of highly profitable computer software.

"I guess what started it all with me was seeing how well my brother did with his first Internet business. He opened one of the Web's largest Web sites on saltwater fishing tackle and didn't know anything about Web design and he did fine," Barret said. "I thought 'heck, I know a bit about Web design so I must already be at an advantage.' The problem was I was young and still only starting high school at the time, so I had lots to learn in other venues of life, particularly in focusing my efforts on one thing at a time. But as soon as I got the basics under control, I was finally able to start making some money."

Adrian's first Web site "was about myself and a bunch of my snowboarding friends," he said. "I created it on a free Web host with the intent of selling our movie to a bunch of people. A couple of years later I created another site with a bunch of hunting gear, camping equipment, and things like that. I sold one hunting knife to someone and that got the ball rolling I guess. I thought 'hey, if I can sell one, why can't I sell 1,000 or maybe even 100,000?'" said Barret.

Barret often seeks advice from Internet tycoon Mark Ling, 28, of New Zealand. Ling is the head of a multibusiness Web company that exclusively sells various forms of computer software, ranging anywhere from teaching a foreign language to showing how to train your dog.

"I talk with Mark Ling on a regular basis actually," Barret said. "It's pretty cool to be talking with one of the world's top marketers on a casual basis. Mark has helped me to focus better on my goals and I have learned a lot from him."

Ling started his Internet business as a side income during college while studying for a degree in psychology. After he finished his degree, "I decided to just do that, make money online. I mean, why not? I'd been doing it for four years already at the time I left university. Not to mention I enjoyed it far more than working for other people."

In keeping up with the ever-changing trends of today's market, even the professionals from time to time call upon each other for insight and advice. "I still get a lot of help from other strong Internet marketers, we all help each other out. It pays to get to know others who are doing well so you can share strategies and keep up with the play," said Ling.

To keep from falling behind, Web companies often venture into new industries. A.J. Enterprizes is now transitioning from selling software from only a few select areas, to selling many forms of software that deal with a variety of subjects. "Right now I am working on a lot of different projects and only have a couple of sites up and running," Barret said. "About the best show of what is to come with my business is on where I am teaching people about the Internet through a free lesson program."

He still hopes to one day make it as big as some of the best in the business. "With time and dedication the day will come when all of the pieces will fit together and I will finally be there," said Barret.

Brian Michel will be a freshman at St. Bonaventure University.

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