For high-school freshman Rachel Zietz, landing an area on the varsity lacrosse team was a surprise. On her behalf teammates, there is a bigger surprise: learning that their newest member creates the practice equipment they use in the home.
“I inform them, ‘Yeah, that’s my company,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool!’” she says.
Zietz, 14, may be the founder of Gladiator Lacrosse, a type of rebounders and practice goals for lacrosse players to use within their backyards. She started the business in 2013 after being struggling to find equipment that could endure under intense practicing.
The tween honor student from Boca Raton, Fla., is competitive on / off the field. She finds time to perform her company during free periods at school, before and after lacrosse practice and on weekends. (During class, her one employee handles orders.) She shares space in the warehouse her parents use for his or her own company, even though she needs Dad and mom to operate a vehicle her to meetings (she’ll get her learner’s permit on June 24) and provide advice sometimes, she says that suppliers and customers treat her with the respect they provide to older companies.
“People don’t treat me just like a kid; people treat me like I’m a business woman,” she says.
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Zietz works together with manufacturers overseas to choose durable, high-quality materials on her behalf products. The merchandise themselves are created overseas and shipped to her for distribution to retailers and consumers. Buyers assemble the gear themselves utilizing a simple group of instructions.
Starting a type of stronger lacrosse equipment was an all natural decision — both because entrepreneurship runs in the family and because Zietz is a lacrosse player herself. She took a 33-week program called the Young Entrepreneur’s Academy, and by the end of it, pitched to investors her idea for high-quality lacrosse products. She won just over $2,700, and with it, caused suppliers overseas to secure her first 45-foot container of goals and rebounders. That container can take 250 rebounders and 500 goals, but it’s no more big enough. Zietz now needs full containers, which hold 500 rebounders and 1,100 goals, on her behalf growing business.
Unsurprisingly, the business has experienced some growing pains. Considering that she runs on the factory in China, Zeitz was previously struggling to fill orders because she’d underestimated how long it could take for something shipment to attain her. She’s since learned to reorder when her containers are half empty. She’s also looking at a domestic factory and negotiating with other factories in China for additional products she actually is evaluating.The setback didn’t hurt sales, which reached $200,000 within their first year. This season, Gladiator Lacrosse is on the right track to generate over $1 million.
Those revenue figures result from the sales of just two products. Not for long, though. “We’re seeking to expand in to the lacrosse ball market,” Zietz says. “We’ve been researching standards, so we’ll have balls with different colors.”
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Also on tap is a type of compression socks. Other future plans include focusing on an endorsement deal and looking at expanding into sports retailers such as for example Brine in Boston. The business can be a sponsor of the Orange Bowl Lacrosse Classic and other tournaments.
Moreover, Amazon.com users rate the company’s goals and rebounders, which currently retail at $120 and $200 respectively, as the very best within their category, even above brands that are better-known. It seems sensible, then, that Zietz’s accomplishments now include being truly a finalist for the higher Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Entrepreneur Award for young professionals. She lost the Under 35 Entrepreneur of the entire year category to a 34-year-old, but she took home the “Rising Star” award. She’s not concerned about the loss, since she’s another 2 decades of eligibility.
Zietz’s siblings — Jordan, 13, and Morgan, 9 — may also have futures as entrepreneurs. Jordan is a recently available winner of an elevator pitch competition at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, while Morgan is continually pitching business suggestions to the family.
Even if someone with an entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t have a family group history of taking that path, Rachel advises not letting that block the way. Age shouldn’t be considered a barrier either. “It’s never too young to start out. I started when I was 13, and it had been successful. Many people are afraid, but if you’re passionate about any of it, you’re never too young.”
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