Like any 16-year-old in Southern California, David Rajewski wanted his own car. But instead of getting a job and saving up, like most of his friends were doing at the time, Rajewski decided to take his biggest passion—skateboarding—and start his own business.
"I had friends working minimum-wage jobs, but that wouldn't really enable me to get the car I wanted," recalls Rajewski, now a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. "My dad pushed me to start my own business, and I loved skateboarding. It was my biggest hobby. Plus, I always liked the idea of being my own boss. I got the entrepreneurial bug and there's no turning back."
Taking a $1,000 loan from his father to start the business in 2007, Rajewski began his resrarch. He called manufacturers, shops, and industry experts until he finally had an idea of what he wanted to do.
In 2007, Rajewski launched Stoked Skateboards, an online retail store that specializes in high performance longboard skateboards. The site allows customers to customize the their skateboards, down to the precise color, design, and size they desire.
The site was a hit. In less than five years, the site has grown quickly into a mini-skateboarding empire. In 2011, the company made over $708,000 in sales, while sales for 2012 will exceed $1 million, according to Rajewski.
The company warehouse is located in Torrance, Calif., where Rajewski has a team of three assembling orders and fielding customer questions.
Despite the rigors of business school, Rajewski manages to go down to the warehouse two or three times a week. The rest of the time he manages the company remotely.
"It's like having a job after school," he says.