17-year-old earns $34,000 a month from her Amazon business – Telemundo Denver

At age 12, Bella Lyn had a problem. His guinea pigs were disappearing.

So Lin let her three guinea pigs roam her parents’ fenced-in, grassy yard near San Francisco. In his opinion, it was better than the alternative: Lin, now 17, told CNBC Make It that the two-pound creatures “looked miserable” in their cramped cage “with prison bars.”

He assumed the first one, Snoopy, had escaped and continued to release his guinea pigs until his father saw one eagle fly off with the other, he recalls. Determined to keep pets out of traditional cages, she began drawing prototypes.

Lin, a graduate of Khan Lab School in Mountain View, California, tried several models and invested about $2,000 of his savings to launch his side business GuineaLoft on Amazon in November 2022.

According to documents reviewed by Make It, it sold about 11,000 cells last year and generated more than $410,000 — an average of about $34,000 per month.

Between academic courses, extracurricular activities and college applications, Lyn works about 20 hours a week at GuineaLoft. That’s how he created a side business that’s so successful that he’s considering putting off going to college to focus on it.

An unprofitable side business led to an “epiphany.”

Lin told his father, a computer programmer, that he wanted to create a better cell. According to Lin, he had contacts with the family factory in China through a former client and introduced her to it.

After a year of developing prototypes, Lin was distracted by another idea: he wanted to sell sportswear for girls at a lower price than the big fashion brands. She did her research, found another factory in China, contacted them and put together a business plan to sell leggings starting at $23.

GuineaLoft’s first prototypes were built on his parents’ dining room table with office supplies, Lin explains. 1 credit

The side business, called TLeggings, was launched in July 2019, she said. It brought in about $300,000 in revenue in 2020. It also earned Lin a place in BizWorld, a project-based entrepreneurship program for youth 16 to 22 years old.

He completed a 12-week training program and worked with a business mentor, but at the end of the program he did not win a project presentation competition or a cash prize. This was one of the few signs that TLeggings was failing: despite strong revenues, the company was never profitable, and Lin had difficulty keeping up with his competitors.

He closed it at the beginning of 2022 and returned his focus to GuineaLoft.

“I had a weird epiphany: I realized there were a lot of other companies trying to make leggings,” Lin says. “There was no innovation there, whereas with GuineaLoft I was able to fill a really big gap in the market.”

Working between classes and late at night

Lin realized that his early prototypes were promising but imperfect.

Traditional guinea pig cages are made with canvas or plastic slats, a roof and a bottom. They are difficult to clean and often smell like excrement, Lin said.

Its early glass and open-floor cabinets provided greater visibility and mobility, and featured a two-tier backrest. The dirty bed could be placed in a removable plastic tray. But glass was too expensive, and the little guinea pigs’ feet got stuck in the ground.

Lyn’s pets roam freely in GuineaLoft enclosures (Photo: Bella Lyn)

Lin rearranged her schedule so that she could do her homework between classes. He stayed late to research and virtually test products with his six-person team in China: a production manager who works at the factory, and five full-time GuineaLoft employees who previously worked with Lin’s father or factory management.

These six people are responsible for purchasing, producing, packaging and photographing products, Lin explains. Lin handles product design, pricing, marketing at GuineaLoft (T. Leggins taught him a lot about social media, he says) and overall business strategy.

The company eventually chose acrylic instead of glass and made replacement bottoms from biodegradable wax-coated paper, similar to what Lin calls “airplane vomit bags.”

The products are easy to throw away, which is good for business: when GuineaLoft’s satisfied customers run out, they have to return to Lyn’s Amazon store to restock.

Winning the $10,000 Contest

The factory produced the first batch of 100 cells. Lin was very pleased when three copies were sold in the first few hours.

Within two weeks, he said, GuineaLoft had dropped out of 100 companies “without doing any marketing.” Last year, he competed in BizWorld again and won the $10,000 investment fund competition. The money will be used to purchase accessories and new cages for various types of small pets, such as rabbits and hamsters, he explains.

Lin has had guinea pigs for years and had up to 10 of them at one time, he said. (Photo: Bella Lyn)

“25% of the profits from each cell are immediately reinvested into marketing, market research and new product development,” Lin explains.

This means he hasn’t made any money yet, but while he’s applying to college, he’s considering taking a year off after high school to visit a factory in China, learn more about manufacturing and grow his business.

“Seeing the tangible impact (of GuineaLoft cells) through customer comments and emails is encouraging,” says Lin. “As someone who once placed a high emphasis on academic testing, the success of… (my part-time job) has bolstered my confidence that I can move forward with my life beyond high school.”

This article was originally published in English by Megan Sauer for our sister network CNBC.com. To learn more about CNBC, go here.

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