15-year-old New Yorker Noa Mintz is one of the youngest people in the world to own a successful start-up. The teen entrepreneur is the founder of ‘Nannies by Noa’, a popular baby sitting agency that she started after a number of bad personal experiences with babysitters, but because she is still in school she needed someone to handle business for her. So she just hired a CEO.
Although Mintz agency was doing well, she simply couldn’t find time to handle the ‘excruciating hours’ and ‘hundreds of emails’ along with homework. So she decided to delegate the responsibility of running the business, and her decision has paid off. The agency now serves almost 200 clients in the tri-state area, providing them with baby sitters as well as full-time nannies.
It all started three years ago, when Mintz, a sixth-grader, spent the first half of her summer vacation interning at a nonprofit. Subsequently, she spent the second half brainstorming for her nanny agency. It stemmed from the fact that Mintz, the eldest of four, always found flaws with her own babysitters. She realized that there must be a better way of pairing families with the right caregivers. “For what you’re paying, your kids should be more stimulated,” she explained. “At seven, I would tell my mom, ‘You need to get more bang for your buck.’ It would drive me insane.” So Mintz accepted a challenge from her mother to find a better babysitter for their family, and succeeded. Soon, she started helping out her mother’s friends too.
Photo: Noa Mintz/Facebook
“I found it fun to get to know a family and their needs – and find a babysitter who matched that,” she explained. “I really had no expectations, but I figured I’d try.” She started by hiring caregivers in her own circle and then expanded to college-career websites. In order to make sure that she got the right nannies, she designed a thorough review process – a resume, a personal interview with a trained nanny, and a reference and background check.
In July of last year, Mintz hired Allison Johnson to oversee day-to-day business operations, while she attended her freshman year of high school. Johnson, 26, works out of a rented office in Midtown Manhattan. Mintz said that she had to make the decision to hire Johnson because putting in 40 hours a week while juggling school work was getting too difficult. “I’m not an A+ student,” she explained. “I have definitely struggled with school. Having this business, I realized that book smart isn’t the same as entrepreneurial smart. I’ve tried to channel the business to give me more confidence in school.”
Photo: video caption
“While stepping down was necessary with the beginning of high school, of course it has been difficult to hand over lots of my work to someone else,” Mintz had written in an email to a college entrepreneur, seeking advice. She has also leaned on her father for a bit of advice. He runs a private equity firm, so he has been able to help with front money for legal fees. But he says he expects a full ‘return on investment’, just as any other business venture.
In the past one year, Mintz’s business has almost tripled. She initially used to charge $100 to $200 per match, because she wanted to earn the trust of her clients. “I wasn’t charging enough. Even clients would say, ‘You realize you should be charging way, way more,’” she said. But now that the business model has been revamped, the rates are on par with the industry – 15 percent of the nanny’s first year gross salary. That’s a lot of money in New York City!
Photo: Nannies by Noa
Nannies love using her service too, even the more experienced ones. “Noa interviewed me on the phone. I had no idea she was a kid,” said 37-year-old Dahlia Weinstein, a 10-year nanny veteran. “I was intimidated – she’s so well spoken.”
Mintz’s parents said they aren’t shocked by her success – she had displayed a talent for business at a much younger age, when she would organize art classes for her siblings and coordinate party planning. “I got her a subscription to Entrepreneur, but she also reads Seventeen,” said Mintz’s mother Meredith Berkman. “I wanted her to go for it, as long as she’s doing all of her schoolwork.”
Although Nannies by Noa makes a decent amount of money, Mintz isn’t taking any for herself right now. Instead, she prefers to invest everything back into the business. And that’s incredibly mature for a 15-year-old. “I feel that there are always opportunities for growth and marketing, which comes at a price,” she said. “Eventually I may take out a small salary, but not at this point.”
Mintz has experienced success at a really young age, but she says she has no plans to let it go to her head. She has ideas for other businesses that she wants to pursue after school. “First I need to finish high school, and then perhaps I’ll launch another company. We will see.”