Monk is just 16, and a Year 12 student at Western Springs College in central Auckland. During the school holidays he is planning to set up a dropshipping ecommerce business with his brother - just to keep his hand in between exams and the start of the next school year.

His first business - environmental food wrap company Wrap It Up, was established earlier this year with a group of school friends as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, a competition where groups of students set up a real business. This experience of running a company was the first stage along a road which saw him win an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley. And there he (and five other young NZ entrepreneurs) visited 14 organisations, including Microsoft, Stanford University, Apple, Zero, Instagram/Facebook, Renaissance Leadership, and Uber.

Zach isn’t expecting dropshipping to make him a fortune, or win him another major overseas trip. But he’s keen to learn more about the nuts and bolts of being an entrepreneur, as he heads towards his career goal of being a CEO - of his own or someone else’s company.

“What I learnt from Silicon Valley is about not being scared to go after something you are interested in and have ambitions to do. In the course of this year I’ve gone from thinking ‘Oh it might be cool to get involved in the Young Enterprise Scheme’, to finding myself in Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurial hotspot of the world.”

He says meeting with people like Vaughan Smith (Facebook vice president of mobile, corporate and business development), and Ben Anderson, founder of global recruitment company Renaissance Leadership, has revolutionised his view of what might be possible.

Both Smith and Anderson are Kiwis who made good in Silicon Valley, and they passed on the message ‘Go for it’.

“They said ‘Be ambitious’. The US doesn’t have that tall poppy syndrome where you don’t celebrate your school and work achievements. They talked about being up front about your goals, taking advantage of opportunities you have. And they said that there are lots of people out there that will support you.”


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