By Sue Goldfarb
He believes in moving, not sitting.
PALO ALTO, Calif. – At the tender age of 21, Brett Kingstone turns ideas – his own and others’ – into money. He calls himself “a simple shmo.”
He writes guest editorials for the Wall Street Journal at $1,000 a crack.
He’s collecting $100,000 in royalties this year from the how-to-do-it book he wrote on part-time businesses.
He and the author of a comic book are splitting the royalties it brings in, since Kingstone established a publishing company specifically to print the book.
And when a friend invented a lighting system that uses a fifth of the energy of neon signs and reduces computer screen glare, Kingstone jumped at the chance to market it and collect his share of the sales. He expects the business, Fiberoptics, to go public within 18 months.
“I am the first one to say ‘let’s get off our ass and dance,” Kingstone said with a twinkle in his eye. “That’s the whole idea behind being an entrepreneur.”
Kingstone’s book, “The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide,” won him the endorsement of the man he calls his “economic idol.”
“I’ve always looked up to (free-market economist) Milton Friedman, ever since I was a little kid,” Kingstone, a native New Yorker, said. “When I was a freshman, I used to run around the dorm quoting him. His endorsement is like a dream come true.”
But Kingstone, graduated from Stanford last June, is not one to rest on his laurels. After his book was distributed in bookstores nationwide, he put up nearly $10,000 of his personal savings to publish a comic book called, “Dupie.”
The book is a collection of strips written by Gil Morales, another Stanford graduate. Morales wrote the strip for the student-run Stanford Daily while he was in college.
The comic book, first released in August, is already in its second printing and Kingstone anticipates selling 50,000-100,000 books by the end of September.
He said if any of his businesses fell through, he’s got “at least 20 more ideas on the back burner.”
To look at him is to confirm the statement. You can almost see the wheels spinning away beneath his boyishly tousled hair.
With all the wheeling and dealing he does, and the big bucks that keep flowing in, Kingstone could be living high on the hog.
But he’s not.
He lives in a rental house in Palo Alto with Morales and another friend. He drives a 1969 Plymouth Valiant. And he wears jeans or gym shorts almost everywhere he goes.
Read: The Bulletin – Sep. 27, 1981 – Youth turns ideas to money
“A classic flaw is to withdraw money from the business too soon,” Kingstone said. “I have to live modestly and keep reinvesting. In my mind, I am not a success at 21, I’m just starting out. My goals are much higher.”
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