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Age Places No Barriers to Business Ownership

Nearly 20 percent of the Business Journal’s 40 under 40 nominees own or have founded a business. This trend isn’t a local or even regional phenomenon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, young entrepreneurs are making an imprint on the business world across the country. The bureau reports that the majority of business owners,31 percent,are 55 and older, but younger business owners aren’t far behind. More than a quarter of the nation’s business owners are younger than age 44. Technological advances, America’s enduring entrepreneurial spirit and other factors have contributed to this trend, say the 40 under 40 nominees interviewed by the Business Journal. “Because of the Internet, so many more resources are available to anyone,” said Jennifer Berson, owner and president of Jeneration PR LLC in Sherman Oaks. “They’re so much quicker to get than in the past, (when) you had to subscribe to certain databases.” Michael Glazer, co-founder and president of SodaHead.com in Encino, agrees that the World Wide Web has made it much easier for young entrepreneurs to launch businesses. “You can create something with relatively few resources and make it really big, thus leveraging technology and the Internet,” said the 37-year-old. “You can have a five-, 10-person team and build a $10 million business. That wasn’t available a generation ago or 10 years ago. Technology and the Internet have really allowed people to create businesses with not much money and create them relatively easy.” Before launching his social networking website publicly in 2007, Glazer was an investment banker, who focused on technology and biotechnology mergers and acquisitions, initial public offering and other corporate finance initiatives. “I’m entrepreneurial at heart,” Glazer explained of his decision to begin his own business. “I’ve always dabbled in (entrepreneurship), even as a kid.” While Glazer believes that advances in technology have made it easier to launch businesses, he also attributes the wave of young entrepreneurs to a philosophy that’s long predated them,the American dream. “I don’t think it’s a generational trend,” he explained. “I think it’s kind of American culture.” CRL Landscape Design owner Catie Casazza, 30, grew up watching the American dream at work. Her father has been an architect and contractor for about 30 years. “He always had his own business,” she said. “I saw the good and the bad of owning your own business.” But the difficulties of entrepreneurship didn’t dissuade her from starting her Encino-based landscape design firm four years ago. “I started with a very, very small project, getting my feet wet. (It) really happened by accident,” Casazza said of launching a business. Berson described the launch of Jeneration PR similarly. The 32-year-old had been a litigation attorney for four years before leaving the world of law for public relations. She made the switch simply by approaching a business she liked and asking to promote its products, “without even knowing that was a real job. I never studied it,” Berson said of PR. “I just felt more drawn to kind of creative ventures. I always knew I ultimately wanted to work for myself .I just decided to take a big risk and start my own company.” Olympia LePoint, who launched O. L. Consulting in 2007, said that she also fell into entrepreneurship by happenstance. Formerly a rocket scientist for Boeing, LePoint decided to dedicate her career to doing consulting for corporations as well as educational, government and nonprofit institutions to raise math and science awareness. “I realized that within a 10-year timeframe the majority of the people who could technically define our country through math and science would all retire, and there would be no one left to secure our nation’s technology nor maintain its satellites,” LePoint recalled. “So, I recognized there had to be a person who would spearhead or start to lead a movement to effectively promote math and science principles and education to the mass population.” In that vein, LePoint developed the ACE Math 1-2-3 Method to eliminate math phobia in students. The program has been used by the California Science Center; California State University, Northridge; University of California, Los Angeles, Extension; and Pierce College, according to LePoint. When she launched her consulting firm, LePoint, 32, had been doing such work for more than a decade, she said. “I just formally decided to start a business either applying or tutoring mathematics.” LePoint holds neither the Internet nor technology responsible for the number of people younger than 40 now beginning their own enterprises. “I have noticed a pattern between the ages of 30 and 33,” she said. “Major life changes happen in a person’s life. They get married. They choose to have children. They choose to go back to school. Starting a business falls into that major life changes category.”

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