Jaylen D. Bledsoe founded Bledsoe Technologies, LLC, an information technology consulting business in Saint Louis, Missouri, when he was only 12 years old. Within two years, he had a profitable business with 150 contractors working for him. After working with clients like Jordin Sparks and Steve Harvey on developing their brand in the digital space, he decided to rebrand his own company to become the Jaylen D. Bledsoe Global Group.
Also a motivational speaker, Bledsoe is committed to expanding the number of youth leading startup businesses and has launched a summer program to help train youth to become entrepreneurs. In 2009, he won a Presidential Academic Excellence Award and has also received the Gateway Young Achiever of the Year award. Now a senior at the Hazlewood West High School, Bledsoe has also been an active member of the Wyman Teen Leadership Program, Mary Institute & St. Louis Country Day School’s Young Republicans and Student Technology group, has sat on the board of the National Youth Rights Association, and served as chief technology officer of St. Louis Volunteen.
As a young man, he always planned to attend Harvard University, double majoring in business administration and computer science, but has now fallen in love with Stanford University after speaking at an event there.
EBONY: You started your own company at a very young age. What kind of insight did you have into the Internet boom that made you launch such a business?
Jaylen D. Bledsoe: I started my first ever company at the age of 12, A Business Mans’ IT Solution, after being in Hazelwood School Districts Galactic Program from third to fifth grade. In Galactic, we were being taught word processing, video editing and music programs at a very early age. This program helped me develop an interest in the power of technology.
My sixth grade summer, at the age of 11, I taught myself to program in seven different coding languages out of books. Working with family and friends on web projects, I began to make $10/hour, then $20/hour, then $100/hour and I knew that it was time to make it official. So starting the sole proprietorship at 12, I quickly learned the need for an LLC, which is why Bledsoe Technologies LLC was born in 2012.
EBONY: Did you ever think you’d grow to a successful business employing 150 contractors, and what steps did you take to get there?
JDB: At that point in time, I had no idea I would have such a successful business. I really didn’t expect for the fat chubby kid I was at the time to become the successful CEO of a technology company—now the CEO of a holding/investing company and a digital strategy, business and brand development consultant, in addition to being a motivational speaker and a spokesperson for both AT&T and Walgreens.
The most important steps to get there: dreaming big. Dreaming big leads to acting for big, and then achieving big.
EBONY: How did you end up landing clients like Steve Harvey and Jordin Sparks?
JDB: I met Steve Harvey at the Disney Dreamers Academy in 2013, and after someone mentioned my achievements to him, he asked that I make him a billionaire with my skills and the rest is history.
I contacted Jordin via Twitter about singing at an event, and struck a conversation about her charity, The M.A.D. Girls, Inc. After learning about their initiatives and efforts around the world, I became intrigued and offered my expertise.
EBONY: What were some of the most exciting projects you’ve done for your clients?
JDB: I wouldn’t say they’re a client, but it’s K-Swiss. K-Swiss is changing the target of their brand to be young entrepreneurs and innovators. I’m helping them to see what the young ’treps and innovators want to wear.
EBONY: Now that you’re a senior in HS with a consulting business that works with celebrities and you travel around the world speaking to students and executives, what are your plans for college and your future as a tech titan?
JDB: I plan to attend Stanford University. I was always a Harvard guy until I spoke at Stanford, and fell in love with the campus.
Well, I now have the Jaylen D. Bledsoe Global Group. My investment and holding company, which we soon hope to start wide-scale investments into youth-led tech startups. Under the Global Group, we have the Flare Digital Agency. The Flare Digital Agency is a digital strategy and brand development firm that works with brands to grow their digital footprint and revenue channels. We don’t work with all clients who approach; it’s a very exclusive group of clientele.
This year I launched the Jaylen D. Bledsoe Young Entrepreneur University, an effort to educate and involve minority students into the world of entrepreneurship. It is currently in a camp formation, with plans to become a digital university. With the camp, upon completion the winners of the program work with the Jaylen D. Bledsoe Global Group to complete further research and look to actually make the ideas they developed a reality.
EBONY: With all that focus on business, when and how do you get time to actually be a teen? Or is your business your life?
JDB: Business is life. I’m an entrepreneur, I think, breathe and eat business. But I’ve made a great effort this past year to incorporate friends in my daily life more. It works, as it helps to relieve some of the daily stresses.
EBONY: Explain how you run a business full time while also excelling in school. What are your grades like?
JDB: Let’s just say my calendar is immensely organized, down to the dreaded homework and breaks to breathe.
EBONY: You were also once a chief technology officer for a youth organization. What was that experience like?
JDB: I served as a CTO for an organization for an immensely short period of time due to major scheduling conflicts.
EBONY: With five years in this game, what advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs looking to start a similar business?
JDB: One: dream big, act towards big, achieve big. Two: don’t let your setback cause you to sit back.
EBONY: Not every kid is going to be the next Jaylen Bledsoe. You had exposure to opportunity and programs that sort of set a foundation for a leadership mindset. What about youth that don’t have the exposure or the access? How can they become a part of this tech revolution?
JDB: I first started my techie exploration with my mom’s old Dell desktop computer. Not writing software, not editing videos, not producing music. I used to tear it apart and put it back together before she returned home from work. I don’t recommend this, but it’s to say: start with what’s right in front of you. We live in a world of technology, and there’s always something to explore.
A big part of what I do now is digital strategy consulting, which means I get paid to tweet, post to Facebook and Instagram from brands. You probably already do it for yourself, and once you begin to study the trends of what invokes social engagement with followers, you’re on your way.
EBONY: Do you see yourself more as a techie or a businessman?
JDB: I see myself more as a businessman who has great passion and interest in technology, which makes me a business techie.
Lynne d Johnson has been writing about music since the early 1990s, tech since the late ’90s, and the intersection of music and technology since the early 2000s. She currently writes, teaches and consults companies on how to better engage with their audiences. Follow her on Twitter @lynneluvah.