Written by Amanda Delgado
WunderThought, a company focused on web hosting, as well as logo and web design, was created by middle school students in 2011.
The students, who are now juniors at Miami Lakes Educational Center, started WunderThought to complete a website for their Lawton Chiles Middle School as community service. Upon seeing how successful they were, they decided to utilize their own skills to work for themselves.
Nowadays, the four students – Sebastian Salas (CEO), Christian Steiner (PR manager), Erick Rivera (development manager), and Brandon Henao (accountant) – are moving towards 3D/ computer-aided design (CAD) and have received the proper certification and skills necessary to run the company. They are also constantly attending small business seminars and advertising to attract customers from across the world.
Despite their young age, with their web and graphic design skills are impressive.
“People see us as these young kids utilizing the skills we have access to,” said Steiner. “They see that we have [the] drive as we always present ourselves professionally and they want to help us.”
However, being young has its disadvantages and they’re often not taken as seriously as they would like.
“People always want to help themselves so when it comes to payment they try to shoehorn our services for a lot less than they’re worth… Many people have tried to scam us. Some just outright didn’t pay and we couldn’t pursue them as we had no legal documents. All that has changed and now a contract is a must and we know how to price our products accordingly.”
The company and the four founders have matured by overcoming emotions, short attention spans and loss of focus. They have received endless amount of support from their parents and peers.
“Mr. Salas provides us with our own server and many of the tools we need to move forward such as computers, printers, and gas,” said Steiner. “Adults see [WunderThought] as quixotic (unrealistic) but sweet, until they hear what we have accomplished and just seem proud to see drive in our generation. Peers are fascinated with it as they think of it as some unreachable goal we somehow attained. It’s not [unreachable] at all. Anyone can start a business. It’s the success that takes a lot of work.”
They’re determined to continue WunderThought after their high school graduation since it won’t be difficult to conduct business from a long distance since most of their business is already conducted via email, texts, phone calls, and Skype.
The team is also working on shifting WunderThought to a new direction – 3D printing. They all have obtained SolidWorks certification.
“SolidWorks is a 3D CAD design software and we are working to pay for a commercial license (which is 10 grand) so we can begin to develop 3D products and then use MasterCam to prototype and test them,” explained Steiner. “We have a 3D printer. It’s a fairly new industry which means a more open market for us to enter so young. We are using web design to fund the commercial license as it’s an ever growing market and we need to expand and not be left in the rut.”
At 16 years old, Salas is the youngest person to be a Certified SolidWorks Professional. Steiner and Rivera both receive their CSWA (SolidWorks Associate) during the upcoming winter break; Henao currently holds a SolidWorks Associate.
“We will continue web design but on a much smaller scale unless we expand the company,” said Steiner.
For more info on these “wunder” teens, go to http://www.wunderthought.com/