By Megan Grassell, IATG ContributorJune 6, 2016
It’s Megan here, back this month for my IATG column! So as many of you know, I am the Founder and CEO of Yellowberry, the company I started while I was still in high school. Girls ask me all the time what it was like to start a company while still in high school, and what it’s like to run it now as a young woman.
Let me start with the high school piece. To be direct, starting a business in high school is really hard. Starting anything new - a project, job, internship, sport, etc. for the first time is challenging. When you try something for the first time, it can take up a lot of energy and be pretty overwhelming. For me, I was a very competitive alpine ski racer, took school and my grades very seriously, and didn’t do much else!
When I started thinking about and working on Yellowberry, it became an outlet for me in a lot of ways. The first was that it gave me something else to think about that wasn’t math homework or training for skiing. It also began to develop into an obsession that I couldn’t not work on! That being said, I would go to school, go to training, come home, do homework, and work on Yellowberry. I didn’t make time for anything else. I spent my weekends, school breaks, and the greater part of my summers working on this idea.
And although I’m really glad I did, it wasn’t easy.
It was often incredibly isolating, and it took a long time before I started to see any real progress. It was frustrating.
But I look back now and am so glad that I started Yellowberry when I did. I approached with an unformed idea of how a startup should look, how an early business should be built. This approach was actually such an incredible asset for me, because I was always the first to identify what I did not know and reach out for help. I found mentors, and I moved forward slowly and thoughtfully.
Today, I have maintained that mentality. I am young, and I am learning more and more every day, but I still have a lot ahead of me. I have worked very hard to hire a team around me that is smart, believes in Yellowberry, and sees the potential that this brand has.
We are collaborative, we are innovative, and we listen to one another.
Working with a startup makes every day challenging in ways I never expected. It pushes you to step up, to learn more, to work harder, and to move forward no matter what. As the youngest person on my team, and also the leader of an impressive group of women that I aspire to be like in so many ways, I am proud of how far we’ve come, but I know there’s still a lot more work ahead of us. And that’s what makes this so much fun.
You may ask, what does that mean for college? Well… I’ll talk to you about that next time!
Do you have a crazy huge idea or dream? Now’s the time to go for it! Start planning small steps, take your time, and begin the process today!
In 2014, Megan was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Teens and included on Huffington Post’s list of 14 Most Fearless Teens. She has been featured in countless media outlets including The TODAY Show, The New York Times, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Seventeen, and Teen Vogue among others. Megan has deferred her freshman year at Middlebury College to continue as CEO of Yellowberry.