Exclusive interview with Jenk Oz, the UK’s youngest CEO
13-year-old Jenk Oz is Britain’s youngest CEO, founding iCoolKid. His company is the UK’s biggest digital media platform for the generation Z audience and produces content across the themes of pop culture, technology, science, art and gaming. Jenk has given two TEDxTalks, been featured in Forbes on multiple occasions and has been invited to share his message in front of many audiences from Model United Nations to Amazon. Oz has been recognised for his entrepreneurial flair, and for making lists including the Progress 1000: Most Influential Person in Science and Tech 2017 from The Evening Standard and the Top 20 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch 2017 by Start-Up magazine.
What do you think makes your company so appealing to the generation Z audience and what can other businesses learn from iCoolKid?
I think we have tried to find a sweet spot where cool, safe, unbiased and social responsibility can live alongside each other on one site.
Additionally, a lot of other teen sites tend to have a gender/topic bias, we have tried to meld them all together effortlessly so everyone can feel comfortable jumping from article to article depending on their interests that day.
What do you think the future of work and the workplace will look like from a generation Z perspective?
With 800 million jobs being eliminated by AI and automation and the Gig workforce growing three times faster than the traditional workforce; the world of employment will look drastically different for Gen Z. For that reason, I see Gen Z as having a growing entrepreneurial spirit that is more of a survival mechanism than a reach for the riches.
Solopreneurs who are focused on sustainable small wins rather than building massive companies will become the norm. They are just a growing and focused group of practical pragmatists.
What are some of the digital media trends that you are excited about for the future?
Gen Z led digital media trends are certainly having an impact. I think we will see:
- Much greater levels of Transparency, Authenticity, Diversity and Originality.
- Companies will have longer term relationships with brand ‘Champions’ and use nano-influencers (sub 10k) versus social media royalty to advertise their products and services.
- Experiences that bridge the physical and the digital world – ‘Phygital’.
- Marketing to consumer values- not product features, not price, not design.
- Ads that highlight the social good a company provides & convey a meaningful story.
- Using AI to enhance micro-segmented, self-optimising campaigns.
- The rise and success of digital first ads will continue- by 2022, it will double that of traditional ad spend.
- Ads will target consumers by interest, hobbies and passion and no longer by age.
- Shoppable posts and visual searches will become the norm on Social media.
You’ve clearly achieved so much from such a young age, what’s your best piece of advice that you could pass on to any other young aspiring entrepreneurs?
Create an ‘Idea’ Board of Directors. Find 4-5 people from different backgrounds and levels of experience that you can tap into for advice on an ongoing basis. Maybe start with a teacher from school, your mum’s friend the lawyer, your dad’s friend the tech guru and throw in your cousin the fashion blogger.
Then meet with them once a month for an hour at a time. Ask loads of questions and listen closely to all their advice. Remember, don’t leave the meeting without booking in your next meeting.
What is one of the hardest challenges that you’ve come up against and what did it teach you?
Definitely time and my organisation. There are so many things to do and learn both inside and outside of school. School will always be my priority, and must come first, however the second I get spare time I need to decide how best to spend it.
I am always thinking about how I can advance the company and learn more about the latest technology and trends in the market place etc…
Finally, what is the best part of your job?
There are so many fun parts to the job but I think teaching ‘Ideas Ink’ workshops to young school kids is the best part. They get so excited and they are very appreciative; and to be honest, some of them do coming up with pretty amazing ideas!
Interested in booking Jenk Oz as a keynote speaker for your next event?