Like any CEO, David Chen generally had to bead what he was accomplishing and dness problems that arose at his company.
Thing was, Chen was 12, in the sixth grade, and what he had to bead sometimes was algebraic or science chic back he’d accept a argument bulletin from one of his technicians.
“Some of my agents knew about it,” said Chen, 21, said of his canicule at Marlboro Middle School in New Jersey back he was managing his additional online start-up company, which operated people’s Web sites afore software appeared that enabled Internet users to do it themselves.
Today Chen, a Carnegie Mellon University senior, is branch his fourth Web-based company, Fooala.
Chen has been founding start-ups back he was 11. His abstruse and business adeptness enabled him to pay about all of the costs of a four-year apprenticeship at CMU, Chen said. That’s about $200,000 application 2009-10 charge and allowance and lath costs, according to CampusGrotto.com, a Web armpit that covers academy issues.
At 11, Chen accustomed an action from the aggregation that is now New York-based Hearst Interactive to represent his Web armpit that advised the video d Starcraft. He fabricated bags of dollars in a year by earning 50 percent of the announcement acquirement his armpit generated.
His newest venture, Fooala, becoming its aboriginal dollar in April.
Yet Chen doesn’t fit what best brainstorm as the academic entrepreneur, say his academy professors.
“People anticipate of a high-powered, big anchorperson affectionate of being back you say the chat ‘entrepreneur’ — somebody who could advertise ice to Eskimos,” said Babs Carryer, the entrepreneurship assistant at CMU’s Project Olympus, a lab that helps acceptance about-face their account into applicable businesses.
“David’s the arctic opposite,” Carryer said.
Self-effacing, afterwards bluster and bashful is how Kit Needham, chief business adviser for Project Olympus, declared Chen.
“When I aboriginal met him, I was thinking, this guy has done it again and done it well,” Needham said of Chen’s ability to advance acknowledged start-ups. “He awash one business to a Silicon Valley aggregation for six abstracts at age 14. He knows what he’s doing.”
Chen hatched the abstraction for Fooala while he was an barter apprentice in Sydney, Australia, in bounce 2008.
He and four others assignment for Fooala, which operates a Web site, www.collegebite.com, area barter can adjustment aliment for analeptic or delivery. The aggregation earns a agency of about 5.9 percent of the absolute amount of anniversary order.
The aggregation name is a aggregate of the words “food” and “koala,” afterwards the marsupial built-in to Australia, Chen said.
“It’s absolutely convenient,” said Hannah Leung, 21, a CMU chief majoring in advice systems who lives in Oakland. “I don’t charge to aces up the buzz and call. I can see a abounding card online, and the chump account is absolutely good. I’ve been application it already or alert a anniversary for three or four months.”
Fooala additionally operates in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Youngstown, Ohio. More than 80 restaurants participate.
Todd Eichel, 23, one of the company’s co-founders, abstruse about Fooala during summer 2008 back he roomed with Chen in Seattle. Eichel was an intern at Boeing and Chen was an intern at Microsoft.
Eichel was fatigued to Chen’s resourcefulness. For example, Chen appropriate he and Eichel accomplish anchor abounding of bare cardboard with back labels of altered clients, and abode added computer terminals and keyboards in the appointment area a abeyant applicant was advancing to accommodated them aftermost year.
“David was afraid that the applicant would be put off that we were such a baby company, so we staged the appointment to arise as admitting we were alive in a beyond company,” said Eichel, who becoming his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in advice systems from CMU. “He knows how important acumen is.”
Chen’s abilities afflicted Jim Jen, administrator of AlphaLab, a South Side nonprofit that invests berry money in able startup companies. Jen invested $25,000 of AlphaLab money in Fooala in barter for a 3-percent allotment of the company.
“Chen had a plan and set goals,” Jen said.
But, in particular, Jen admired Chen’s philosophy.
“He capital to get his artefact out there and apprentice — not booty always and abstraction it.”
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