How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Seven years old when you had a lemonade stand? 12 years old when you sold Girl Scout cookies? A little bit older — or much older — when you were ready to strike out on your own?

Michael Parker, 16, has a social media business. Well, not “business” in all the formal ways you define it. But, he’s been doing Facebook/Twitter updates for Vincent’s Italian restaurant in Raleigh, and is talking with Dos Perros in Durham and one other potential client.

“I like doing stuff on my own. I’ve always been independent. It doesn’t really feel like work. It’s fun.”

Sounds like he’s on the right track. When work feels like play, it usually means you’ve found the right thing for you.

Michael was a student of Startup High, an introduction to entrepreneurism for high schoolers by Scott Kelly’s new company, Max Q Ventures, which he founded after departing KeySource Commercial Bank in 2011. The students, with tablets and laptops in hand, had already stopped by Durham Bulls, Argyle Social and Lab Rats Studio last week. There will be three more weeks this summer, with about 50 students who will build mobile apps, blogs, videos, social media campaigns.

The first group of 14 students had plenty of questions for Ryan Hurley, one-half of the husband and wife team behind Vert & Vogue, an eco-friendly boutique in Brightleaf Square.

As the students sat around with Ryan, they grilled him — politely, eagerly, after they very formally shook his hand and introduced themselves.

1. How have you successfully drawn customers?

2. How do you know what clothes to buy?

3. What would you do if the business fails?


1. Newsletters, events, partnerships. Not so much social media.

2. In the first year, Vert & Vogue bought from many new designers, but found that to be problematic as many would go out of business. Nowadays, the store buys from designers who have been in business for at least three years. About half of the merchandise is made in the U.S.

3. “We’re all in. Failure is not an option. You just can’t walk away from it.”

Bonus. Another tidbit from Ryan: Vert & Vogue open in September 2008, just days before the fall of Lehman Bros. sent the economy into turmoil.

But that didn’t scare off the students. Ariana Nicholson, a rising sophomore at Carolina Friends School, loves nature and feels business is the way to develop her interest.

“Business is going to be part of everything. I can be a teacher and teach kids about nature, but through social media, maybe I can teach the whole world.”