The Guberti brothers from Scarsdale, Michael and Marc, met us at the gate to Fordham Universityâ€™s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. Chauffeured by their parents in the family SUV, they led us across the campus to a parking lot at Fordham Prep, where 17-year-old Michael is a senior and 16-year-old Marc a sophomore.
Their school, like the college, was closed for Easter recess. But enterprise takes no spring break with these teens.
We strolled across the quiet greening campus to Hughes Hall, a mansard-roofed, 19th century gray stone building that is home to Fordhamâ€™s Gabelli School of Business. The building was closed, but Michael pointed to tall windows on the second floor.
â€œThatâ€™s the classroom where weâ€™ll run the boot camp,â€ he said. He said it as if to offer physical proof and dispel any doubt their interviewer from Westchester might have that these freckle-faced teenagers from Scarsdale were legit.
Yes, a boot camp. A summer camp, but not your ordinary summer camp. â€œThis is one of a kind,â€ Michael said.
Sponsored by Fordham, the Guberti brothers are starting an â€œentrepreneurial academyâ€ for students between the ages of 12 and 19. They expect to teach about 20 protÃ©gÃ©s in each of three one-week sessions in July and August. (Teen readers, take note: thatâ€™s July 7-11, July 14-18 and July 28-Aug. 1.) Itâ€™s an extension of Teenager Entrepreneur, the online training site the brothers co-founded last year at home in Scarsdale to help other teens â€œpackage passions into profitsâ€ â€“ their business slogan at teenagerentrepreneur.com.
â€œWe wanted to do something in our lives that we would enjoy doing,â€ said Marc, tracing the origins of their youthful entrepreneurialism. The brothers first shared their passion for sports on blogs they created at marcguberti.com and michaelguberti.com. Theyâ€™ve since branched out to write and sell digital books and offer online training in business and social media on their sites. Theyâ€™ll also do motivational speaking gigs if you ask.
Kid brother Marc, a budding social media maven, led the way in discovering that oneâ€™s passion could generate profits. He began sharing his wider range of interests on Squidoo, an online publishing platform and community of fellow enthusiasts. He recommended books that he had read to others with like interests and linked them to Amazon, a Squidoo affiliate, â€œand when people buy it, I make 4 percentâ€ in commission, he said.
â€œI was making a good income from Squidoo.â€
A businessman with discretion, Marc smiled, and pondered an honest but not too revealing answer. â€œSeveral thousands of dollars,â€ he at last said.
As a published author, Marc Gubertiâ€™s prolific output would put many an older professional writer to shame. On his own blog, the 16-year-old peddles Kindle editions of his oeuvre priced in the teen-friendly $2 and $3 range. â€œHow To Be Successful On Twitter.â€ â€œ365 Ways To Improve Your Business in 2014.â€ â€œHonest Ways To Make Money Online.â€ â€œKeep The Ball Rolling: How To Stay Motivated While Writing An eBook.â€ â€œFoolâ€™s Gold: Not Everything In Business Is As It Seems.â€ All that and high school homework, too.
The media maven also offers a mixed-media Twitter Domination Training Course. For $47, an online student can learn the tactics Marc has used to increase his blog traffic by more than 300 percent and reap a sixfold increase in his Twitter followers. â€œI have 65,000 but it keeps on growing,â€ he told us. â€œI expect to hit 100,000 by midsummer.â€
Marc said heâ€™ll soon be coming out with his sixth Kindle book. â€œMy book is designed to teach people how they can write more words in a given day.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be using that book,â€ said his older brother.
â€œIâ€™ll give you a free copy; you donâ€™t have to worry about it,â€ said Marc. â€œIâ€™ll print it out and sign it.â€
Michael Guberti has published one digital book, the 32-page â€œSAT/ACT Guide To Success From Mindset To Mathematics and Clock Management to College.â€ â€œI came up with that two years agoâ€ when taking those college entrance exams, he said. Itâ€™s designed to supplement those hefty College Board test guides.
Michael is working on a second book that advises ambitious high school students on â€œhow to dominate on an Ivy League interview,â€ he said. With the book heâ€™ll offer an online training course spread over five days in 30-minute segments.
Interviewing for an Ivy League college is â€œtorture,â€ said Michael, who has endured it. â€œIâ€™m less concerned with the profit than with how I can helpâ€ a student step into that torture chamber â€œwith increased confidence.â€
At Fordham Prep, the senior from Scarsdale is doing an internship this spring for his Advanced Placement class in macroeconomics. He led us off the campus and across East Fordham Road to the Fordham Foundry, a 2-year-old small business incubator run by Fordhamâ€™s Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with New York Cityâ€™s Small Business Services. Michaelâ€™s internship there proved opportune for the Guberti brothers and their dream of turning their teen peers into entrepreneurs.
â€œTheyâ€™ve got to know and think and live that theyâ€™re entrepreneurs,â€ Michael earnestly told us at the Foundry office, â€œso that people come to see them as such.â€ The goal of Teenager Entrepreneur is to change the way teens see themselves and change too â€œthis global perceptionâ€ of teens, he said.
Fordham Foundryâ€™s co-director, Christine Janssen-Selvadurai, also directs the entrepreneurship program at the Gabelli School of Business. â€œI pitched her the ideaâ€ for the summer boot camp, Michael said. â€œShe agreed that she likes the entrepreneurial fervor and thatâ€™s when the deal was done.â€
Itâ€™s a pretty sweet deal for the Gubertis. Michael said Fordham wonâ€™t take a cut of the $997 fee for the boot camp. (The Teenager Entrepreneur online training course is priced at $797.)
Michael said the brothers will sponsor a seat at their summer camp for one underprivileged teenager with a passion for the entrepreneurial life. And he further pledged to provide â€œnutritious snack optionsâ€ for those summer students hungry to learn how to package their passions into profits.
Those nutritious snacks might have been inspired â€“ or ordered â€“ by the enterprising Gubertisâ€™ enterprising mother. A holistic nutritionist and functional medicine specialist with a private practice in Greenwich, Conn., Nancy Guberti about 15 years ago gave up a lucrative, personally rewarding career at Goldman Sachs â€“ â€œthe golden handcuffs,â€ she said with a smile outside Fordham Prep â€“ for the sake of her son.
Marc said he suffered from multiple food allergies in his pre-authorial days as a 1- and 2-year-old. â€œNo one knew what was wrong with me. My mom went into nutrition to find a solution and she found a solution â€“ and thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m here today.â€
Marcâ€™s 65,000 Twitter followers might want to tweet their thanks to Nancy Guberti.
â€œShe loves being a nutritionist,â€ Marc said. â€œShe does what she does because she loves what she does and she makes money at it at the same time.â€
â€œShe was the role model for us.â€
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