723. The Internet Company He Birthed at Age 15 Is Thriving 24 Years Later
“So fast forward to when I was 15. I said, you know, I’m good at this and why don’t I just do this since I’m good at it. I, by the way, didn’t have a computer. It was like December of 1995, I was finally able to afford my own computer. I got a nice used computer and then the company really took off because I had access to the right tools….my first customer was a Kung Fu school.”
Jeff Hall started working at age 7 doing door-to-door candy sales to help support his family. The company he founded in 1995 at age 15—Overflow Café—to help companies grow their websites, is thriving 23 years later. He has supported over 200 successful Kickstarter projects and has helped build 14 orphanages around the world. In his spare time, he loves watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and having a good cup of tea. You’ll find him working hard, and sometimes goofing around, in Toronto, Canada.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“My teacher, Mr. Morris, overheard me talking to my friend, Tony, about his new computer. Now, I’m 13 years old, in the 8th grade, and this is 1993. Nobody had a computer back then! Mr. Morris thought I knew a lot about computers, which was not true at all, but he asked if I could take a look at one of the school’s new computers, which was having problems. He said he’d let me off of an upcoming assignment if I’d help. Of course, I said I’d give it a shot. By trial and error, and following the next logical steps I was able to fix the computer in a few minutes. After that, the teachers would call on me instead of calling for outside technicians to take care of any problems that came up—which back then was quite often. As it happens it was easy for me, and I really enjoyed it.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“After building my skills with computers and this new thing called the Internet for a couple of years, I started my first company, Overflow Café, to help people set up their websites. The catalyst for me doing this was that we were about to be evicted from our house and had only a few months to come up with a large sum of money to avoid being homeless. I dropped out of school, bought a nice, used computer and because I finally had access to the right tools the company really took off. My first customer was a Kung Fu school. The company is thriving 23 years later, I’m proud to say.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Stay open to new opportunities. When I was 7 years old I began to pick up the loose change that the more affluent kids in my school would carelessly drop on the playground. Then I’d go to a local store, buy candy and resell it to my classmates at a profit. Odd as it sounds I did very well with that. A few years later the opportunity to repair the new computers our school had bought—this was in 1993 so computers were quite new—morphed into my first business at the ripe age of 15. I had zero idea I was good at the techie side of things, until I was given a chance to try and found it came really easy for me and was great fun.”
Steps to Success from Jeff Hall
1. Don’t count on the educational system to prepare you for the world of work. In most cases it does not.
2. Know where you stand. What is your financial situation? When you truly know that, you can reach your goals a whole lot faster.
3. Make learning a top priority. When something interests you and uses your talents and skills, dig more deeply into it. It may turn into a hobby or even a career.
4. Be open to the wisdom and experiences of the people around you. They each are individual storehouses of knowledge.
5. Opportunities abound in the world, if you are paying attention.
Connecting With Jeff Hall
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Careers: Business Owner, Entrepreneur, Website Building