At 6, he began to program computers. At 16, he designed his own Internet server system. At 18, he runs a company that is making about $72,000 a year.
To that wealth, Jeffrey A. Hansen added $5,000 after being named Utah's top young entrepreneur at the 1998 Utah Governor's Young Entrepreneur Awards Banquet Thursday.Two other young businessmen also took home a few thousand dollars each: Brian Johnson, 18, won 2nd place and $3,000; Ryan Bateman, 16, took home 3rd place and a $2,000 award.
To win first prize, Hansen developed WEBIT, a high-speed Inter-net server. More than a year later, the business, which cost $15,000 to $16,000 to start, is making about $6,000 a month, he said.
Hansen, a Murray High School senior, said he conceived the idea about 18 months ago and sketched a plan with his father. So far, he serves 140 local and 260 international customers.
"I can probably add 300 to 400 more accounts without spending a dime on more equipment," he said. To get more customers, he advertises in other Internet sites.
Hansen will attend Brigham Young University in the fall and study computer engineering and business.
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams," said Johnson, also a Murray High senior, moments after accepting his award.
Third-place winner Bateman, who attends Fremont High School, was impressed when he saw a bird sold for $2,000 in 1993.
"I saw there was high value in the (bird-selling) business," he said.
He discussed his idea with his father, who provided the $1,600 to get started. Today, Bateman's business, World of Wings, which supplies replacement brood stock for fanciers who race and show pigeons for competition, makes about $13,000 a year. Bateman also rents birds for weddings, funerals and other ceremonial events.
"We have about a 75 percent growth per year," he said. If the business continues at this rate, Bateman figures he will be making about $45,000 a year by the year 2000, working only one hour a day.
While attending Utah State University to study ornithology, Bateman plans to expand his business to include more exotic birds, such as hawks, falcons and eagles.
A year ago, Johnson and a young partner invested about $5,000 to develop AMRAD Mats and Matting Inc., a company that sells and rents commercial and residential floor mats.
"It's a great business niche here in the Salt Lake Valley that had not been filled," Johnson said.
About seven months ago, his partner, Ryan Wright, left to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the business has flourished and posted a 25 percent net profit at the end of its first year.
AMRAD contracts with eight mills in Georgia, Ohio and the East Coast to provide "any kind of mat you can imagine," Johnson said. He plans to continue running and expanding the business while attending Salt Lake Community College.
Kurt Avarell, a junior at Granite High School, received honorable mention and a $500 prize for operating Intermountain Termite & Pest Control since January 1997.
The other six finalists were Michelle Leonhardt, Emery High School; Trevor Paskett, Roy High School; Matthew Rogers, Valley High School; Jed Weller, Weber High School; Allen Whitaker, Davis High School; and David R. Wright, Alta High School.