Shahed Khan is CEO and Co-founder of a pre-launch startup called Viatask. He’s been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Tech Cocktail and more, has been attending every networking event he can, pitching to VCs and—get this—he’s only 16! That’s right—Shahed is part of the rising phenomenon of teen entrepreneurs. Although he’s only in high school, he’s not letting that stop him from following his business dreams. I had the opportunity to ask Shahed some questions about Viatask, as well as his experience with starting a business at the age of 16.
The first thing I asked Shahed was what Viatask is. He told me, “Viatask is a social errand running platform. Nowadays busy people often find it hard to run their own errands. On the other hand, there are people who have some free time and are willing to make some quick side cash. We connect these ‘Runners’ and ‘Posters’, runners being those who complete these errands, and posters being those who are looking for someone to complete their errands.” Of course, the runners get a tip for running the errand.
Shahed tells me he came up with the idea while watching an episode of Million Dollar Listing on Bravo. “Million Dollar Listing is a real estate show, where high-end real estate agents sell multi-million dollar homes in the Beverly Hills area. There was this one client that hired a high-end concierge guy to go to the U.S. and buy a house for his family. So immediately I thought about how cool it would be for me to hire someone that could go do something for me.” Thus, Viatask was born.
As a 16-year old businessman, I asked Shahed what advantages and disadvantages he thinks he has over older entrepreneurs. He told me, “My age alone is a great marketing strategy for the company. Not a lot of entrepreneurs meet young entrepreneurs like me, so I get a lot of their attention.” Of course, when people hear that he’s only 16 it sparks their interest. Other advantages? Reduced student-price Metra Train tickets.
The biggest disadvantage Shahed says he faces is school. His summer vacation has just ended but Shahed says, “I’ve told my team and promised that we’ll stay committed to the start-up and work a couple hours on the weekdays and a lot on the weekends.” Another big disadvantage that he pointed out was that he isn’t able to go to networking events that are held in bars—these events are 21-plus.
Finally, I asked Shahed what is the biggest struggle that he has encountered in building his business. He said building the Viatask team was a struggle at first. ”Without a great team you can’t build a startup.” He’s overcome this struggle by putting together a team of colleagues that he knew previously and respects—who also happen to be quite young. Shahed’s co-founder Anuj Dutta is a 27-year old tech guy who works for BBC News. His VP of Product, Thomas Sohmers, is 15-years old but has been studying at M.I.T. since he was 13! 16-year old designer Oscar Gutierrez and 16-year old system administrator Steven Richards finish out the team.
We wish Shahed Khan and his team nothing but success in the future with Viatask and all of their other endeavors. Let us know what you think about Shahed’s start-up idea, and the rising trend of young entrepreneurs in the comments below.
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.