When you first meet him, you’ll see nothing more than a 17 year old high school junior who will likely be wearing a sweatshirt and khakis. He’ll be wearing the khakis because has to; it’s a Catholic school requirement. He’ll be wearing the sweatshirt because he can, and because at 15 when his school banned them, he gathered together his fellow students in protest, then set up an online discussion board where students exchanged ideas for convincing the school officials to change their minds. It worked, as it usually does when he sets his mind to something. He’s relentless, determined, sometimes impatient, and always persistent, almost to the point of being annoying at times. But he’ll work like mad until he accomplishes what he wants. That, in a nutshell, describes David Orr.
David owns and operates a multifaceted online e-commerce business known as Fruper.com. The main division of his site sells primarily consumer electronics in a one deal per day format. It’s a simple concept which is somewhat patterned after the popular Woot.com site but with a few differences such as that of an online store, worldwide shipping, a wholesale division and a sister site known as PrimeThreads.com. Fruper was launched as one of the original daily deal sites on the internet at a time when David was only 14 years of age; in the first year alone he had sales exceeding six figures. These days, he keeps busy negotiating contracts that involve up to a half a million products at a time that he has shipped by the semi truckload to a warehouse in his small midwest town of Effingham, Illinois-population about 12,000. That’s a pretty big feat for a kid who had no guidance, no formal training, not much of a business or marketing plan, no employees….and no office except for the ‘Fruper’ room in the basement of the family home.
Business success has allowed him to drive a Range Rover and BMW, but he’s a pretty normal high school junior in all other respects. He represents his class on student council, was recently given the ‘Most Improved’ award on his soccer team, runs Cross Country, works on the school’s yearbook, and makes better grades in physics than in religion. He’s been seen pounding nails in a Habitat for Humanity house and staying overnight in a cardboard box to help raise funds for the same organization. Balancing school and business does not seem to be too much of a challenge. Instead, his biggest challenge right now is making sure that his ACT score is high enough to get into the University of Illinois’ business school! Perhaps if they give some consideration to his business background, they’ll be willing to take a chance on him.
Fruper.com will never be the final business for David because his goals seem to be endless. He has plans for many more Fruper divisions and hopes to someday own a business with a primary purpose of selling wholesale quantities and surplus. He’s been devoting a great deal of time to writing a book which he will call “Success by 17: Guidance and Motivation for Becoming a Successful Young Entrepreneur.” But if you ask him his primary goal right now, he will undoubtedly tell you that it is figuring out a way to make it into business school at the University of Illinois once he graduates from high school in 2010.
Subscribing to the belief that it doesn’t take the mind of a rocket scientist to be a success, David figures that it is really effort that puts a person on top in the business world. Is he sharp? Absolutely. Yet if his ideas turn into successes, it will have a little to do with the fact that he’s smart enough and a lot to do with the fact that he has a drive and persistence that pushes him to work hard to accomplish what he wants. His determination will be admired and his impatience will annoy and drive some crazy, but he will persist until he gets the job done. After all, that’s really what makes a successful entrepreneur……no matter what their age.
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