The 16-year-old creator of the widely-acclaimed teen website, pupiline.net, has been appointed as a consultant by a global business networking organisation to help pilot an exciting and unique networking opportunity for young Internet entrepreneurs.
The accolade comes hard on the heels of yet another success for Essex schoolboy Oli Watts, who has just won the Young Achiever category of the Internet Business 2000 Awards held in Brighton.
Oli, whose online magazine for teenagers is written and produced by a group of young people working in offices in Ipswich, Suffolk, has been invited to work with an advisory panel of prestigious business people for Young First Tuesday, which has just been launched as a pilot project in the Thames Valley area.
Young First Tuesday is aimed at encouraging young people aged 14-19 to believe itís never too early to start thinking about their future and, in particular, to start thinking as an entrepreneur.
Oli joins an impressive line up of big business consultants from Microsoft to city law firm Berwin Leighton, and pan-European investment fund Eurovestech to name but a few. He is thrilled to have been asked to help with the pilot launch of Young First Tuesday: "This is an organisation which will really give a voice to young wannabe entrepreneurs like me. There are loads of young people out there with good ideas. All many of them need is a bit of good advice and support to turn their dotcom dream into business reality."
Oli himself was introduced to First Tuesday through Edwin Hamilton, former Business Development Director for British Energy who lives in Great Henny near Sudbury and who became Chairman of Pupiline Ltd earlier this year. Since then the youngster has developed a network of business contacts and support which have resulted in thousands of pounds investment in Pupiline, money which has been used to turn the website into one of the leading teen sites in the UK. Oli has been invited to give a presentation at a major YFT event in March 2001 in Reading, when he will tell other youngsters about how he has turned what started out as a simple idea in his back bedroom, into a thriving dotcom enterprise with around 35 people working for him.
Steve Morton who runs First Tuesday events in the Thames Valley area is heading up the YFT pilot which has raised over £75,000 in sponsorship. He has been instrumental in putting together the panel of big name backers, and says Oli and pupiline are a great example of how young entrepreneurs can make a real go of their business ideas with the right sort of help.
"Oliís story is a real inspiration, because he has taken an idea from his back bedroom into the world of business by recognising the value of developing a network of expertise around him. Now we want to encourage other youngsters to take a leaf out of Oliís book, and then to provide them with contacts and expertise that they otherwise wouldnít be able to draw on. The backing we have from big business for this is really quite phenomenal as they too recognise the value of encouraging and developing and nurturing the talent thatís out there."
Oli relaunched his web site in October with the help of East Angliaís leading Internet Service Provider, Ipswich-based KeConnect, and London-based Design Bridge, and substantial investment totalling £250,000.