The Young and the Wealthy

Every city has its posh pockets of privilege, where those who've won the race for wealth reap its rewards.

And every city has its legendary titans. On San Francisco's Nob Hill, for example, there's a restaurant that pays homage to the city's railroad barons -- older looking gentlemen of the sort we used to call tycoons.

But now, winners at the wealth game come in a younger model. Ben Casnocha wasn't old enough to vote when he founded a million-dollar Bay Area business.

Casnocha's winning business idea began when he and some young teenage friends went to the old Candlestick Park.

"The seats were incredibly dirty and the whole atmosphere of the stadium was pretty depressing," Casnocha told "20/20" co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas. "And we wanted to complain to the city of San Francisco … and I couldn't find anyone who was responsible for dealing with citizen complaints."

Casnocha thought that if San Francisco's City Hall was ill-equipped to handle its citizens' concerns, maybe other city governments were as well.

"For me it was the stadium, for someone else it might be a pothole or a tree limb that's down or a stop light that's out," Casnocha said. "And I started thinking, maybe there's a new opportunity, a new business I could create that would try to help these local governments do a better job at managing these citizen complaints."

'You're Supposed to Fail'

Casnocha did just that, starting a business called Comcate that designs software to solve the problem and sells it to local governments.

"We work with 75 local governments, we have about 3,000 employees who log into our applications every day and we have seven people full-time in San Francisco," said Casnocha, who is now 19.


Identifying and answering a specific need is a classic starting point for a growing number of young entrepreneurs, whose age, they say, gives them an advantage. Casnocha said that when you're young, the cost of failure is much lower.

"I mean, if you fail no one cares," he said. "You're supposed to fail. So there was really nothing to lose at the time."

"Ben exemplifies the teen entrepreneur," said financial reporter Jon Swartz, the author of a book about youthful business innovators called "Young Wealth." "He is well adjusted, he is smart, he is savvy … he had this exuberance, this optimism, just this 'can do' attitude that permeates throughout not only him but a lot of his peers."

Swartz calls this group "Generation Google" and says that they are winners "despite hardships, obstacles, naysayers."

"With the Internet, in a sense it has leveled the playing ground, so anybody with a good idea [who] is willing to work hard can start a company from scratch over the Web, and that is what Ben did. And that is what these other kids are doing," Swartz said.

Not Just Fun and Games

Ephren Taylor, a 25-year-old, Missouri-raised CEO, is another case in point. If the first thing you need for young success is a good idea, the second is the drive and devotion to see it through. Taylor's first business venture was making and selling video games, which he started at the ripe old age of 12.

"We'd bug our parents for a $50 game off the shelf, and the answer would always be a resounding 'No,'" he said. "And then one day … I came across this book, you know, 'How to Make A Video Game in 21 Days.'"

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