Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and one thing is certain; age and experience have no bearing on success. Teenagers all over the world are demonstrating a flair and a passion for business that many of their older peers don’t have. Aaron Golbin, 18, is one of them. Currently a student at George Washington University where he majors in business, he balances his studies with running several business ventures in an entrepreneurial journey that began at the age of eight.
Alison Coleman: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur at such a young age?
Aaron Golbin: I was a third grader at P.S. 206 Joseph F. Lamb School in Brooklyn when I founded Kings Sports and Entertainment, which provided indoor and outdoor entertainment to kids in the school during their lunch period. That experience taught me a lot about business, as I organized Kings into various departments, including operations, marketing, HR, and finance. I recruited volunteers, led negotiations, pushed the school administration to make certain decisions on issues important to the venture, and also oversaw marketing, product development, operations, and finance.
In fifth grade, I left Kings Sports and Entertainment and developed a keener interest in finance and technology. I learned how to develop a company through a business plan, strategy, the fundamentals of computer science, and public equity (stock) analysis. I also learned how to program in many programming languages. In 6th grade, I began creating stock analysis and business presentations, and by the time I was 12, I was ready to create a new venture. I’d learned a lot, but now I wanted to apply it, and on April 30, 2016, I founded the online debate platform DebateIsland.com.
Coleman: Tell us about DebateIsland and the success behind it?
Golbin: DebateIsland.com enables anyone to debate online while connecting with others. Previously, taking part in online debating was difficult due to the complexity of the online platforms providing it and the formats that they offered. We changed that by creating casual online debate. I created Debra AI, a component of DebateIsland.com, and a mix of APIs and proprietary code that analyzes arguments, and predicts the winners of debates.
The platform had around five million page views in 2021 and in 2020 and is currently the world’s largest online debating platform. It also incorporates an edtech solution DebateIsland Education that helps students to improve their debating skills and enhance critical thinking in a fun way. In 2020 it won an Excellent Award from EdTech Impact.
Coleman: Your newest business project is The American Post; how is that going?
Golbin: The American Post is an online platform where people can discover curated opinion articles on a range of political topics from the sources and ideologies they choose. We also publish our own fact-based, nonpartisan opinion pieces written by our team of contributors. We have a team of around 20 people, but it is growing quickly. People can go to The American Post and view the latest opinion articles from leading publications, and curate them based on article topic, and the ratio of politically liberal to conservative publishers they want the articles to be from. The American Post is a value-based startup. We don’t and never will influence the types of articles that are displayed for any political motivation.
We also offer commercial solutions to companies, Think Tanks, political ventures, and individual researchers that provide them with aggregated opinion articles and political research online. Monetization is currently via advertisements and commercial solutions.
Coleman: What are the most difficult and the most rewarding parts of being a teenage entrepreneur and business founder?
Golbin: Being an entrepreneur is hugely rewarding, especially when you are running impactful startups. When you’re a teenage entrepreneur, time management can be a problem!
Coleman: Who has inspired you the most? Who are you most grateful to for helping you get to where you are today?
Golbin: My mother and father, Alice Golbin and Alex Golbin have been instrumental in helping me accomplish what I have so far with their love, support, knowledge and advice. I’m also grateful to my grandparents, Maya Itskovich, Vladimir Itskovich, Leonid Golbin, and Natasha Golbin. In the late 1980s, they led my entire family to the U.S. from the former- U.S.S.R.
Coleman: What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Golbin: I believe that businesses are there to solve problems or make the world a better place. If they make money in the process, that’s great, but the priority should be to create a positive impact. I’ve also learned that business isn’t everything, so instead of focusing exclusively on running a business, spend some time making positive impacts elsewhere, for example, supporting charities, getting involved in your local community, and generally helping others.
Coleman: What advice do you have for other young people looking to start a business?
Golbin: From a very young age, I’ve had perseverance, a small amount of impatience, and the ability to work hard. I’m keen to learn and ambitious. These qualities are essential for succeeding as an entrepreneur. You need to be genuinely interested in entrepreneurship and committed to making business decisions that are positive for most. If it’s a choice between making more money for yourself or developing a new and impactful product, I believe that you should focus on the latter.