BY: John “Hennry” Harris
St. Louis, MO, and nearby Ferguson, has been viewed as an epicenter of social injustice and institutional racism, sparking protests and the #BlackLivesMatter movement following the shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown last year and the unrest attributed to the one-year anniversary of his murder.
The outcome for most teens in this area is projected to be a dark one, but for 17-year-old Jaylen D. Bledsoe, he is rising above his circumstances and achieving success most adults are still trying to achieve.
Bledsoe is a nationally recognized teen entrepreneur, investor, motivational speaker and business development consultant.
At the age of 12, he started his own information technology consulting business, Bledsoe Technologies, LLC, with only a $100 investment, and within two years he had 150 contractors working for him and increased the value of his company to $3.5 million.
Bledsoe has had success in several areas including start-up businesses, brand and business development, venture capital funding, direct marketing platform development and implementation, entrepreneurship and increasing revenue streams. Bledsoe even boasts celebrity clients like Jordin Sparks and Steve Harvey.
Bledsoe recently re-branded his company to The Jaylen Bledsoe Global Group and his passion of inspiring and educating other teens prompted him to create The Young Entrepreneur University – a set of interactive digital programs and camps designed to educate minority students on entrepreneurship. In 2016, he is planning on taking his program to over 10 cities.
“I see greater meaning in knowing that I’ve motivated someone with my story, inspired someone with my words, or impacted someone with my business rather than just enjoying the check that’s offered,” he told The Huffington Post. “I’ve come to the understanding in my life as I travel the country speaking to youth, hoping to change lives, that the word ‘net-worth’ doesn’t have to apply simply be the equation of, ‘your assets minus your liabilities’.”
Bledsoe credits chain grocery store CEO Scott Schnuck, as being a mentor from the very beginning of his business journey and for giving him invaluable advice:
‘Take risks, there’s nothing that you can do as a minor that will shoot you down for too long. Because you are young, you can come back up and keep going.”
There are four principles that Jaylen Bledsoe lives by:
“Dream & Think Big. Control Your Future. Own Self Validation. Don’t Seek Validation.”
Not bad for a teenager.