Comfortably the youngest entrepreneur to be interviewed by the Huffington Post UK, Colchester's Andrew Dewar made his social network debut with new business Ooblur at just 14 years old.
Here he tells us his hopes for the new site and explains how he fits in running a thriving social network around his school work.
Have you ever set up any websites or businesses before this venture? What made you decide to set up Ooblur?
Yes, I started a picture download website and video streaming website before I started Ooblur, I consider these ventures as 'practice businesses' because they went awfully. The site was called Freepici and the design was just awful. If I was the customer, I would of clicked off the site but it was my first site and at the time I thought it was great!
What does Ooblur do that other social networks don't?
At the moment Ooblur is pretty similar to other networks but we allow users to add blogs, forums, create and customise groups easily. In the future, we hope to allow users to add their own e-commerce stores and sell products from their profile and add mp3 music files and instantly share them with friends.
Also we are ethical and support SAGIC, the Salvation Army General Insurance Company, because 100% of profits go back to the Salvation Army and help out people who need it. My dad, Gordon Dewar is the managing director of SAGIC so I wanted to support him and it's also a good cause.
Do you make any money on the site at the moment? If so, how?
Yes, I make money from advertising and I'm using a company called BuySellAds that works as a middle man between advertisers and publishers for a small commission.
How many registrations have you had so far? And how many of them do you consider to be active users?
We have just over 1.9 million members so far and I'd say around 1.7m are active, logging on at least once a week.
A screenshot of Dewar's new social network, Ooblur
How do you intend to grow the site? Are you actively promoting on other social networks/anywhere else?
We hope to add new, interesting, cool features to the site like the shop and the music; and it will all be free. I think if you build something and make it free people will come check it out because it's free - I think I've proved this theory.
How do you fit in managing the site around your school work?
I have a rule, school work first, then Ooblur because if anything happens to Ooblur and I run out of money, then a good education will help me a lot! But Ooblur doesn't really take much work because members do everything for themselves, I just provide the service and make sure it works!
What will the site look like in five years time? What innovations do you have planned?
I can't look into the future but I expect the design and features will be different. It'd be exciting to look into five years time because technology moves fast! Maybe social networking sites won't exist, maybe Ooblur won't exist.
Have you been approached by anyone to buy the site or become a partner? What would you do if that happened?
I've been approached by investors but it didn't amount too much. As for a buy out, if the price is right I think I would sell, but I'd like to keep it for a little longer and enjoy it.
Do you have any other entrepreneurial ideas you'd like to pursue next?
Yes, I'm interested in starting lots of different companies from different sectors. I'm interested in starting more social networking sites then I'd like to start a tangible business because the only problem with an online business is that you don't have much assets. So yes, I do have ideas but they're in planning stages at the moment.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs considering setting up a new business?
Don't just sit and talk about it, do it, but make sure you do your research and make sure you know a bit about the sector you hope to go into.
More:Small And Medium Enterprises Young Talent Smes Small-and-medium-sized-enterprises Social Networking
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