The West

Teen web entrepreneur makes mark
Lachy Groom. Picture: Rob Weiner

He has only just turned 18, yet Lachy Groom has already mustered years of experience as an internet entrepreneur.

The South Perth teenager has founded four online businesses since he was 13 and sold three to international competitors.

Mr Groom left WA this year for America where he is making his name in Silicon Valley, the hub of the world's technology industry.

_The West Australian _visited Mr Groom in San Francisco, where he has been offered the head of marketing position for an innovative web developer training company, which itself is making waves in global technology.

It's not bad for a lad who is barely old enough to vote, can't drink alcohol in the US and hasn't been around long enough to get a degree.

Mr Groom's father, Geoff, a nuclear physician who works in radiology, said his son was entrepreneurial from a young age.

"He took dogs for walks for money," Geoff Groom said. "He set up a lemonade stand with a mate.

"He was always looking for an opportunity to make pocket money."

Lachy Groom said it all began when his grandfather taught him the web programming languages, HTML and CSS, at the age of 10.

By the time he was 13, Mr Groom set up a company building websites for international clients by converting Word documents into web-friendly pages.

"That grew very quickly," he said. "Nine months later when an American company bought it, I had hundreds of clients all over the world."

His parents, Geoff and Gill, were astounded by their son's confidence and business acumen.

"He was a 14-year-old dealing with people 30 years older than him," Geoff Groom said.

"He was organising projects and getting programmers in Czechoslovakia and Thailand to do work for him."

Mr Groom has since set up a successful business to help people find iPad cases online, which racked up 400,000 hits in the first week. In his third online business, he packaged up and sold the four supplements described in Tim Ferriss' best-selling book The Four-Hour Body.

Most recently he founded, and still owns, Cardnap, which allows users to search for discounted gift cards and sell on their own.

As his businesses took off, Mr Groom was rising before dawn to communicate with US clients and working evenings to connect with those in Europe.

But Mr Groom was still a student at Wesley College and lessons were interfering with his flourishing ventures. Principal David Gee said he offered Mr Groom compromises so he could work on his businesses during school hours.

He was allowed one period off a day for business and allowed to use his mobile phone three times a day.

"How many 15 and 16-year-olds have sold businesses to overseas competitors," Mr Gee said. "I've not seen too many like him."

Soon after finishing year 12, Mr Groom went to San Francisco.

Ironically, Mr Groom's youthful achievements are holding him back from his dream to work in Silicon Valley. He is in the US on a temporary visa and is too young to have got a degree, which is needed for most US work visas.

But he does not plan to let that obstacle limit his ambition and is applying for a work visa based on his extraordinary ability in his field.

The West Australian

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