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Shauna-Faith Graham

What Gen Z Teen Entrepreneurs are Teaching Me in my 30’s

By Thoughts

I started working with Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 2021 as a Speaker. NFTE is an organization that supports High Schoolers towards entrepreneurship. Their students come from a variety of backgrounds from all over the world.

As someone who wanted to work for herself as a teen and lived that reality for many years, I admire this program and wish I had something like this growing up to help me understand things I had made mistakes in learning over the years.

In my first virtual conference with students, I discussed the significance of branding and marketing. The follow-up conversation was about my experience and where I am now, as well as addressing questions about the business models and products they were developing.

There were several brilliant ideas. In India, for example, one student and her mother opened a commerce business selling bags made from recycled materials. Another student considered revamping spoons to make them more economical. The concepts were varied and inventive.

I also served as a judge for their annual competition, and the student who received the most votes from our cohort ended up taking home the grand prize of $10,000 to go toward his plan to unite content creators and businesses under the MdrnMedia umbrella.

This teenager had been studying and perfecting his art since he was a child, and he now had a massive fan base to support his idea.The one thing I can admit is that these kids were far more proficient than I was. I’m glad there are such initiatives now to support the next generation.

For instance, I used my entrepreneurial spirit when I was between the ages of 14 and 16 and used my artistic abilities to earn money. I became known for my skill at braiding hair and soon had a steady clientele. My service business, including working at a salon, netted me at least $500 weekly. But I never would have guessed that these young people would be making such a significant contribution to the advancement of our society with a keen eye and outlook.

It’s true that each new generation improves upon previous ones, and perhaps even outdoes them thanks to the availability of more knowledge and better tools. At this point, in this day and age, there is no excuse; information is available and free.

Think about the planet


Growing up in the 90s and 00s sustainability of our planet was not harped in my ear as it is today. However, teens today are thinking of business ideas that make money and are sustainable.

At an NFTE event, one student asked me, “Can sustainability and capitalism coexist?” It is clear that with today’s access to information, they recognize that what their predecessors did and are doing does not sit well with them. To be sure, it feels wrong to the majority of people. But are most people considering how to fix it like the teens today? I, for one, was not considering the environment. Growing up as a Millennial meant 9/11, double recessions, and more. I prioritized survival over saving the trees.

Distinct generations create different issues. I knew the systems were old, and they are still old. With an emphasis on increased cooperation with Gen Y, Gen Z considers truly influencing the world now that we have so much access to information and knowledge and know what is going on in the globe. Nor for money, not for a lifestyle like the Boomers and Yuppies had in the past, but for the sake of everybody.

The most intriguing aspect about this is that it is possible. There is a way to accomplish both aims: profits and humanity. This is being introduced through technological advancements daily. Unfortunately, from my perspective, greed and opposition to change are the only hinderance.


Speak Up and Ask The Hard Questions

Transparency & Authenticity

The big questions to me are the hard questions. Some hard questions include, “Why should I give a two week notice, if my boss can fire me on the spot?” Or “Why do you stay with some who abuses you?” These are one of many questions that many superiors would avoid, but with Gen Z, transparency and authenticity is very important. Unfortunately, but I was trained to listen to my Elders or don’t talk back or rock the boat. Gaslighting, question dodging, passive aggressiveness, and other manipulative strategies began to appear on social media, expressing how I felt when I tried to question the status quo.

These kids, on the other hand, refuse to shut talking about anything. They criticize past generations for their capitalist greed and inhumane behavior. They are making waves by recognizing the facts of the broken world they have witnessed over the years, including 9/11, the Great Recession, Covid-19, and the Pandemic Wars, and participating in political discussions. Like, WTF?

No one is perfect, but Gen Z has embraced Cancel Culture forging new waves of authenticity and transparency regardless of age, race, or creed. No one is exempt. With all of the knowledge available, each generation grows and becomes wiser than the preceding generation. They are doing their best to locate the truth while avoiding fallacies and critically developing their own views, which frequently make sense.

They spoke more intelligently when they were thirteen than I did when I was 22. Though they haven’t lived “life,” they are more prepared than I was. They are straight up. Taking a firmer position, which I sometimes struggle with nowadays due to previous indoctrination.

I value their honesty and integrity. Keeping secrets that might harm many people is for the birds. In order to connect with others, we must first connect with ourselves, truthfully. Today, more than ever, it is essential to each individual to take responsibility for their actions, and I applaud the youth who are speaking up against the injustices they see in our modern world.


Mental & Emotional Health Matters

Take care of yourself

Friends and coworkers have expressed concern that these kids are sensitive, spoiled, and demand a great deal of care. I’m also guilty of questioning my interns about why they require so much feedback or input. From my experience, they become unresponsive if they believe their requests for assistance are being ignored when they are feeling invalidated.

From my perspective, I believe that the emotional toll suffered by Gen Z has sparked from the expectations of perfectionism, and that this generation has begun to push back on what is good for humans and what is not. Gen Z supports therapy and quiet quitting rather than the “eat or be eaten” or “suck it up” mentality of previous generations. Younger generations know the rat race does not work because they have witnessed firsthand back-to-back recessions, a Pandemic, record-high unemployment, and endless wars.

In some sense, the feeling of safety and security is required by younger generations. The most diverse group of youngsters in the US embrace being comfortable with who they are and considering how their feelings and circumstances affect them. We are human and should all have, at minimum, find happiness with who we were born to be.


Every day, Gen Z shocks and amazes me. I admire their unwavering commitment to maintaining their unique identities while also pursuing an understanding of what it means to be really content in life. Everyone’s experience is valuable, but the numerous transitions that are taking place in society with Gen Z, are ones that I can appreciate.

The First 10,000 Users

By Case Studies

I launched a Reverse Caller ID App

It retrieves the names of people and businesses by phone numbers. For example, if someone calls and you don’t know who it is, you have to type in the number, and you get the First Name, Last Name, Address, Line Type, and anything the internet provides for free.

This is not revolutionary. There are over 75+ products just like this, including huge Brand names that have been around for decades. However, I thought I had a unique approach, so I gave it a shot.

Let’s go down in the history of the design and development process of gaining users organically.

Starting to research what was already out there, I created wireframes to replicate the UX/UI that already exists on other apps. Most apps were white, so I decided to use purple and orange style guides for them to stand out a bit.

Version 1

The “not so unique” approach was a star rating to validate the authenticity of the data rated by the user. However, I eventually removed it because I would have to create logins to authenticate the validity of the ratings. In short, too much technical debt for a minor feature. Eight weeks later, I launched on Google Play Store and the Apple Store from start to finish, and I continued with my life.

With only 79 downloads, I had some free to refocus my efforts on the app one year later.

I shared the app with friends, but it didn’t take off immediately. There were so many glitches causing bad reviews. I upgraded the technology and constantly tested it to get all the bugs out.

Version 2

There were many issues. The app would shut down upon launch; the information would not showcase. I can see why my retention rate was terrible; I did not do a thorough enough Quality Assurance (QA).

I hired a separate QA team and used Beta Testers. When the app was seamless, I relaunched the app.

The First 1,000

I upgraded the App Store Optimization (ASO) for Android and iOS. Though I had some content, it was not exactly strategic to be optimized. I double down with content writers and copywriter specialists to grasp keywords that optimize searches on Apple and Android.

I used:

  • Thesaurus to expand my vocabulary and try not to reuse the same words.
  • Keyword Magic Tool to find important keywords.
  • AppRadar and AppFollow to see what my competitors were doing and get more keyword insights.
  • AppAnnie and Firebase for analytics and deeper marketing intelligence.
  • Within six months, I received over 1000 downloads organically.

Apple offers paid search ads, but the application is free with ads running now. The app did not make enough money to supplement the payment for ads. I wanted to upgrade the app’s features and charge a monthly subscription.

The First 5,000 Text Campaigns

One of the most important things to understand about any product is understanding who the audience you are specifically targeting. I doubled down on who receives unwanted phone calls constantly that would need to verify the identity. I had a list of targets, but the final audience I finalized:

  • People that don’t pay bills on time
  • Private Mobile Masseuses
  • Single Women On Dating Apps

I honed into the Private Masseuses only because most use a personal phone or VOIP phone number to receive calls to make an appointment. It would be hard to find a database to figure out if users paid bills or didn’t. And Single Women on Dating Apps would require a different marketing approach.

I gained a list of thousands of Independent Private Mobile Masseuses by web scraping, directories, and lead generation brokers. I sent a simple text to download the app with Opt-out options.

10,000 Users Upgrade UX from Feedback & Reviews

At this point, the reviews were subpar, and the design looked amateur and dated compared to the competing apps. There were many requests and recommendations from users to change such design features, so I knew I had to do an upgrade.

With the rebrand, I restarted with more engaging colors.


Then through development, we had to upgrade the additional features, which took about four more weeks.

And I started to into more issues:

  • Robots were spamming the app, running up the API bill with false searches.
  • Reports that were being spammed needed to be monitored or removed.

After fixing these glitches, I relaunched the app.

With the fee of $3.99 per month and ads for un-paying users, the monies supplement additional marketing.

Web2 vs Web3 Alternatives

By Web3

My journey in Web3 started in 2020. I was working with a client on building a startup that rewards people for saving money. Producing that type of product would require resources the client could not afford. Upon suggesting cryptocurrency, I researched what was happening in the blockchain space.

To my surprise, it was an underworld of impressive initiatives ushering in the new wave of technology of the future.

Web3 is still new but evolving for the everyday user. However, it has not stopped visionaries from developing parallel products using blockchain. Here is a list of Web3 alternatives for Web2 products.

What is Web3?

Web 3.0 is an ecosystem that allows users to be active participants to interact with applications privately and securely through decentralized platforms. This enables users to experience freedom, ownership, and autonomy to create personalized and individualistic journeys.

What does this mean?

Web3 is run by the users, not companies.



Search Engines






Remote Work








Video Streaming


File Sharing


Web3 applications are becoming increasingly popular — they’re versatile, decentralized, and with improved security and scalability. Get your wallets and start experimenting.

Building A Complex Co-buying Calculator

By Case Studies

Nikki Merkerson, the founder and CEO of Pairgap, and I have been working since 2018 to help people buy or invest in homes together as an alternative wealth-building strategy.


According to Forbes, only 47% of millennials own homes compared to 69% and 78% of the two previous generations. Millennials are strapped with student loan debt, don’t feel financially secure to get married, have lower wages, can’t save for a down payment, and currently experiencing inflation increasing. To top that, large companies continue to buy affordable homes with cash. The list goes on. Moreover, millennials miss the opportunity to build equity and grow their wealth by not purchasing homes.


Pairgap’s mission is to close the generational gap by providing tools to guide co-buyers to invest in real estate. Many potential buyers are unfamiliar with co-buying concept possibilities and unsure about its practicality from a financial standpoint.


Through expert strategy sessions and potential buyer pairing feedback, Pairgap decided to develop a unique co-buying calculator to showcase co-buying possibilities broken down into numbers with interactive components that help users make informed decisions about potential investments.

Read the rest on Medium.