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Teenage CEO Nathan Sykes: Biz Whiz Kid Hates School but loves Marketing

By Liz Calvo

At a young age, no one would expect that a six-year-old boy would be bitten by the business bug not that he would start his first small business venture at the age of 12 by selling resources to supplement large multiplayer servers for Minecraft.

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At the age of 14, through research and newer ventures, he decided that his passion for business should extend into events and marketing.

Now, at the age of 17, Nathan Sykes is the founder of the leading monthly flat-rate marketing agency, Howdy Interactive, which has partnered with many large corporations such as Five Guys, Amazon, NBC and hundreds more. 

Sykes began his business by hiring those who were well-versed in marketing, which led to the steady growth of the company due to a high demand of marketing teams for large corporations.

Although Sykes became a successful CEO at such a young age, he is still very humble and admits he cannot take all the credit.

“I only act as a financer for my business, the ones who deserve all the credit are those who work behind the seen who knows and understand the fundamentals of everything that occurs in the company,” he said.

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Sykes also mentions his faults throughout his journey not only with Howdy Interactive, but also in life.

“I came to realize that many people have things that they are passionate and good at doing, which for me is business and marketing; however, not everyone is good at everything,” he said. “In fact, I hate school, I was not on track to graduating on time, I flunked out of two private schools, and I’m an outspoken critic of the public education system.” 

Although Sykes is not fond of traditional education, that does not mean that there is anything stopping him from obtaining his high school diploma.

“Right now, I’m a high school senior, currently enrolled into two high schools and a college online to make up for whatever I missed in order to graduate,” he said. “My business is still my top priority and I’m doing my best to minimize the amount of schoolwork I need to do.”

Furthermore, when asked about interests, Sykes said he loves theme parks.

“Not only do I enjoy dissecting and analyzing the theme park industry, I enjoy going to theme parks whenever I have a few days available — my favorite has to be Disney World because I look up to Walt Disney and their rides are fun,” he said.

Sykes also expressed his love for film, turning his hobby into another business endeavor —The Maine Student Film and Video Festival.

“I wanted to create a place where anyone can celebrate and share their own films they worked hard to create,” he said.

As of now, this film festival has received submissions from 52 countries around the world as well as being a place of inclusivity.

The annual Student Film Festival took place on October 9 – 10, 2020.

“Our Student Film Festival will be taking place virtually. This will be beneficial to those living out of state or out of country.” He continues “I wish to make this virtual event interactive for attendees in order to give them the full experience.”

Moreover, Sykes was asked about his experience as a TEDx speaker at Barry University last year on Feb. 20, 2020.

“I remembered I was doing a presentation for my class the same day I received an invite to speak for a TEDx presentation,” he said “I spent a few days preparing my speech, went down to Miami for the talk, I can easily say I am one of the first to go to a TEDx dress rehearsal in just a tee-shirt and shorts.”

He speaks about what his mindset was for his presentation on TEDx.

“A big part of what I wanted to preach is surrounding yourself with people who will be beneficial to your success will only drive you further in life,” he said.

Sykes opened on how he felt throughout the TEDx event.

“I remembered that I was very anxious, which is a lot for someone who has a stutter and has anxiety. I remember the Mayor of South Miami, Philip Stoddard, he explained to me that this anxiety I was experiencing, I can transform it to optimal anxiety which can help you perform better, this is very true as I felt I did really well speaking,” he said.

When asked about his book, “Retire Before College: The Secrets and Methods of Teen Entrepreneurs,” he said writing it was probably the most challenging thing he had to do.

“Even I can’t come up with the motivation to finish regular schoolwork at times,” he said. “I also wanted to do everything myself which gave me more control over the final product.”

Sykes explains the ideas and philosophies he wanted to share with readers.

“Not only did I want to do it while I was young when my ideas are relevant to young readers, I also wanted to help readers set a foundation for their business,” said Sykes.

Sykes is currently writing his second book set to be released in 202 and has plans to move his company to San Antonio, Texas as his company is now a private equity.

“I grew up in Bangor, Maine and, although it is a safe place to live, there is little to do there and is no opportunity for expansion, that’s why when I turn 18 I plan on moving my company,” he said.

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