Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
At a young age Jason McAninch discovered he was good at operating and troubleshooting computers, as he kept helping classmates and teachers with their computer problems. In 1999, when he was in the 8th grade, he started J-TEK, a company initially focused on creating custom computers for locals. When companies such as Dell and Gateway entered the market, the young entrepreneur’s company shifted its focus on computer consulting, “helping others with technology support.”
Throughout high-school and college Jason continued to create a client platform for J-TEK as much as studying and work allowed him to. But, it was only May 2010 that Jason decided to take a “leap of faith” and pursue J-TEK full time. J-TEK currently provides its services to Johnson County and surrounding areas in Kansas. Stressing that the key to success is putting constant hard work into your business, Jason nevertheless acknowledges that it is essential to take care of your well-being, because “if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.”
Jason also believes that, when creating an enterprise, it is important to surround yourself with people that believe in you and your ideas, to seek input from others, including parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, customers, and to create a team to keep you grounded and focused on your goals.
In retrospect, Jason thinks that: “I was a little crazy to risk all of that, but that’s what separates entrepreneurs from the rest of everyone else. It takes extreme risk to start a business and I think my age has definitely been a HUGE factor to my success, but it also has been a struggle. I looked at it this way – if I fail, I am still young in my career and have time to dust my shoulders off from a failure and go do something else without any major consequences.”
The young entrepreneur initially worried funding would be an obstacle, but came up with inventive ways to overcome this problem. He recalls: “When I couldn’t afford to buy parts for example for computer repairs, I had customers pay for the parts and even go get them for me (before I could drive) so I could do the repairs.” Another concern was building the right team for J-Tek.
At the start of 2010, Jason also created the J-TEK Foundation, a non-profit organization which focuses on helping children and students with the entrepreneurial drive and spirit reach their full potential. The non-profit is funded from the proceeds collected by J-TEK through its technology recycling services.
In September 2010, Jason received the title of KC’s Top Professional in Kansas City’s Top 30 Under 30. The young entrepreneur gave the prize money to his charity of choice, Kids TLC. The organization, situated in Olathe, Kansas, helps children in the community that are in crisis or are homeless. Currently, all of the funds raised by J-TEK Foundation’s recycling events are directed toward the Kids TLC. Jason also volunteers as a Youth Friend for middle school students in his community, in an effort to motivate them to succeed.
When offering advice to other young entrepreneurs, Jason stressed: “Don’t be afraid of failure… the biggest failures give us the best lessons and experience. If you don’t try you will never know what might have been. There is never a better time to start a business than when you’re young… before you have a family, vehicle, home, debt, and all the craziness that comes from being an adult.” He added: “Have fun being a kid – remember, you’re only young once in life … make sure you make time to have fun.”
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