Catherine Cook, 20
Co-founder of myYearbook.com
Catherine Cook was just 15 and her brother David 16 when they came up with the idea for their business. “We got the idea while flipping through a high school yearbook,” she says. “We were relatively new in our school and wanted a better way to get to know our classmates.” Older brother Geoff, already a successful Internet entrepreneur, saw the potential for myYearbook.com to become “Facebook for high school” so he financed their startup and helped build the site. The site now boasts more than 20 million members and last year revenues from advertising and virtual goods grew by 70 percent to $20 million.
What Gets Cook Cooking?
“I am very active on myYearbook, and the questions and comments I get are what drive me to keep coming up with new ideas to give [users] the best experience possible.”
She Owes It All To …
“There is the American dream that everyone can achieve a ‘better, richer, and happier’ life. My mom definitely drove that home for me. When I was 8, my brother Geoff started his own company from his dorm room. Seeing my brother start his own company made me want to start one, too.”
What’s Unique About Her Generation?
“My generation tries to work on its own schedule and make their jobs fit their life rather than the other way around. For instance, I go to college in D.C. yet still work in Pennsylvania.”
How Will the Millennials Change the Nature of Business?
“We share everything and expect everyone to be connected all the time on our schedule. The 9-to-5 work week is becoming a thing of the past.”
Can They Also Change the World?
“Yes. Everyone is so connected that it is possible for a small idea to make a big difference. For instance, myYearbook’s ‘Causes’ section allows members to use virtual currency to donate to real causes.”
The Book She Loves
“Born to Run [by Christopher McDougall]. It is not a book about business, but more about a way of life and stretching the human body’s physical and mental limits.”
The Technology Cook Simply Can’t Live Without
“My iPhone. I need to be constantly updated. I’m OCD with checking e-mail and checking [updates] on my Yearbook.”
Her Advice for Other Young Entrepreneurs?
“Stop just thinking about it and make it happen. The worst that can happen if you fail now is that you’ll have firsthand experience to make your next venture a success.”
SLIDESHOW: See all 10 Superstar Entrepreneurs Under 30
Interviewed by Rieva Lesonsky, AllBusiness.com Editor-at-Large