Meet the whiz kids: 10 overachievers under 21

They're the next generation of entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators

Mark Zuckerberg, watch your back. Sergey and Larry? Consider early retirement.

The next generation is coming up fast, and they aren't waiting for you Web 2.0 geezers to step aside. Here are 10 serious overachievers--20 years old or younger--with more ambition, energy, tech smarts, and business savvy than you'll find in most entire high-tech companies, let alone most adults.

Like various graying legends of the PC revolution (Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Michael Dell), these ten didn't wait until they were of age before starting their meteoric careers. Some are already millionaires; others seem destined to achieve greatness in other ways.

Catch them now while they're still young and relatively innocent. And maybe, if you're lucky, one of them will someday offer you a job.

1. The Serial Entrepreneur

Ben Casnocha, 19

Few people of any age have started a software company and written a book--and considerably fewer 19-year-olds have. But Ben Casnocha is one of them.

Inspired by a teacher who made him memorize Apple's Think Different ads, Casnocha founded Comcate, which sells software designed to help local governments resolve citizen complaints. The specific impetus came from having "a personal experience where I realized how poor some local governments were at dealing with customer service." It was the second company Casnocha had started; he was 14 years old.

At age 17, Casnocha was named one of the nation's top 25 entrepreneurs under 25 by Business Week for his work running Comcate, yet he also found time to be captain of his high school basketball team and editor of Devil's Advocate, the school newspaper.

After finishing high school, Casnocha took a year off to travel and write a book about his experiences called My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley. His personal blog--where he opines on topics from technology to spirituality to politics--has been named one of the top 25 in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Casnocha enrolled at Claremont McKenna college in the US last year and seems almost irrationally modest about his success so far.

"I don't believe in long-term plans," he says. "Most good things that happen to me are unexpected. Certainly, you can cultivate 'positive, bulk randomness' (a topic I discuss in my book), but some of it is just sheer luck and timing."

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Dan Tynan

PC World

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