Due to my own crippling fear of underachieving, I’ve always been super suss on young people who overachieve. Russian gymnasts winning Olympic Gold at 14-years-old? Must be blood doping. Genius primary school kids getting into Harvard? Show me the birth certificate. So when I came across yet another puff piece about Jack Bloomfield, Australia’s very own self-confessed and self-promoted teen millionaire, my inner-cynic was quick to dismiss the piece as PR fluff.
For those unfamiliar with the Jack Bloomfield story, it goes like this: born and raised in Brisbane, Jack was business savvy from a young age. He’d earn extra cash selling lolly bags at his parent’s tennis centre and mowing his neighbour’s lawns. Using his lolly dollars, he eventually saved enough to create his first app – he was 12-years-old.
By 15, he was deep into eCommerce, setting up online stores that sold a variety of gimmicky items – remote controls, flashlights, money clips. Using the drop-shipping method, where a store sells the product and passes on the sales order to a third-party supplier, who then ships the order to the customer, he started making money.
And just like that, the narrative was written: Jack Bloomfield, a self-made millennial ‘millionaire‘ before he’d even finished high school.
Unsurprisingly, the media couldn’t get enough of this business wunderkind. A quick Google of Jack’s name offers up myriad newspaper articles and TV interviews lauding the youngster’s success.
In every story Jack’s youth and wealth are inextricably linked, he’s always listed as either a teenage millionaire, millionaire teen, 17-year-old eCommerce entrepreneur, and my favourite, teenage serial entrepreneur. Amongst the overwhelmingly positive press on Jack Bloomfield, there were a few comments that warranted a double-take.
Now it’s news to no one that the internet can be a hive mind of conspiracy and craziness. But the same questions kept popping up: how does Jack Bloomfield actually make his money? What are his businesses? What do they sell?
Despite his well-reported success, Jack never discloses what his businesses are; they’re only vaguely ever referred to as ‘eCommerce stores.’ That’s not an issue on its own, but these days the teen millionaire is leveraging off his entrepreneurial reputation by selling online eCommerce courses via his website.
The paid programs promise to help users “learn how to Master, Excel and PROFIT off EVERY area of eCommerce.” Now admittedly, at thirty years old (and certainly not a millionaire), I have a million reasons to be envious of the now 18-year-old Jack Bloomfield.
But parking my envy, I was mostly curious about how a self-made teen becomes the subject of so much adoration and speculation (and the odd bit of scathing criticism). And so I found myself reaching out to Jack Bloomfield’s (PR) team and sitting across from Australia’s most mysterious teenage millionaire. Below is a transcript of our chat over lunch, I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.
Thomas Mitchell: Jack, there are so many articles about you being a teenage millionaire. How do you feel about being the poster boy for young entrepreneurs?
Jack Bloomfield: I don’t like the fact that through promoting me as this young, successful individual that somehow is above everyone else. Growing up, I was never special at anything, was never good at anything. I was never class captain, never school prefect, never really excelled in one thing, I was just really average. And yet, business was just something that I loved, and I could do quite well. That was just me.
TM: Have your parents ever helped you out financially?
JB: Not at all. Not a single cent financially. The $500 I used to start my first business, half of that came from mowing our lawns so, if you want to look at it that way, then sure, but in terms of cash, buffers or loans or anything like that, not at all.
TM: So BloomVentures – or is it Bloom Group? Anyway, that’s the umbrella company, and as part of that you’ve got – is it six different dropshipping stores?
JB: Actually, we are up to fourteen.
TM: Yeah right. And so, what are the websites?
JB: My biggest I guess concern with the media and [listing the businesses] is it does affect the business.
So when it comes to that question being asked publicly or on TV, as soon as everyone knows what you’re selling and how you’re selling it, they know the products. Anyone else with half a brain would go “hang on – he’s doing well with those products, sourcing them from China.”
That’s something that anyone can do and then also advertise them on Facebook, which drives my advertising costs up and everything else in between. So it presents an issue, and there are some people who will go, “Well you won’t say what these websites are how can I believe he makes that much money?”
Even if I said what the websites are, they are just selling general products. For example, one sells hair removers.
TM: But can you understand why people might feel a little sceptical? If you say you’re doing all this business, but not able to show where, or what the business is?
JB: Certainly, and it comes back down to if people can find any reason to downplay you or have that sort of suspicion in their mind to make themselves feel better, or somehow write you off, then they will.
Which I’m sure some people might because of it, and that is the risk I’m willing to take.
TM: I do find it odd that you kind of can’t disclose any of your eCommerce websites.
JB: But do you see why?
TM: I do, but then I also see you’ve shifted into mentoring and offering eCommerce courses. Could it be problematic to keep that other stuff on the down-low?
JB: Um, yes and no. If you look at my Instagram, for example, I promote it maybe once every one or two months. For me, my biggest gripe with the industry is the joke that if you sell one thing online somehow, you’re qualified to build a course.
The reason why I’ve put mine together was after the first interview on The Today Show I had all these people going “I like what you do. But how can I do it too?”
And I was like “Oh shit, um”, I can’t talk to everyone on the phone.
So, it was just a case of let’s sit down and just record what I know in terms of the processes that I use and how I start and if anyone finds value and buys it, that’s fantastic.
TM: Looking at the programs you offer: there is an eCommerce upskill course, and then you have an eCommerce university program.
JB: Yeah so eCommerce upskill is cheaper, it’s like $80 a month. It’s like a cheaper alternative for a startup.
TM: And then you have eComm University, which costs a couple of grand?
JB: It’s $2000. It used to be like $3 or $4k; now it’s down to $2k. My biggest thing is, if I can get as many people involved in what I want to do, they’re going to learn from me, hence why the cheaper program.
TM: It’s mentioned in a few interviews online that you’re turning over more than a million dollars in sales annually from the eCommerce business. Is that still the case?
JB: Yeah, but as you know, I can’t say precisely what the figure is.
TM: Is the main part of the income coming from the eCommerce stores sales or the fees from the education courses?
JB: I can’t provide the full amount, but I think one third comes from the education arm, and all the rest of it is from eCommerce.
My biggest gripe is the saying: if you can’t do, teach. There are so many people that can’t actually do eCommerce but decide to teach it because they figure there is better money in that.
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TM: Do you see how people might look at your age and be like okay, wait a minute: Jack is 18 and released his online coaching course, which costs $2000. But he won’t disclose exactly how he makes his money…so isn’t he doing exactly what he says people shouldn’t be doing?
JB: Ummm, look at the end of the day that’s certainly a way to look at it, and there’s always going to be some people that comprehend it in that way. If people want to look at it from that angle, fantastic, but the other angle is if you don’t want to do a coaching program of mine if you don’t want the education, then you don’t have to follow me, you don’t have to do any of that.
At the end of the day if you choose to actively be involved in a coaching program that I offer that’s your decision. If you don’t like that to begin with, obviously you’re not going to be involved.
TM: You have all these different stores. How often are you changing products?
JB: Quite regularly. At the end of the day, something might last for ten weeks in the product cycle, and then you move onto something different. I have a team in the Philippines that does a lot of the research and tracking, so I get a list every Friday of which product they have found in terms of scores and ratings and stuff they go by.
TM: But if it is changing so much, why the need for such secrecy around them? If no two weeks will be the same.
JB: If I’m constantly going to be updating people on what I’m selling then, that presents another issue. I might sell products on a ten-week cycle; then I have to update people at week number five, to have everyone up to date. So [not disclosing] is a personal decision that I make, though I may cop some flack for it.
TM: Social media has become important to your brand; you’re the face of Jack Bloomfield, naturally. I looked at your Instagram followers, and there was a big jump in a short period. Have you ever bought followers?
JB: No. Well, I mean I did run through a period of Instagram story advertisements and that kind of stuff. I guess my biggest thing was that the more people know about you and know what you do, the bigger your attraction as an individual becomes and the more doors that open up for you and I’ve certainly seen that.
TM: But if you can boost that by then buying 10,000 followers for $100…
JB: Yeah, you can, but at the end of the day, they’re not people. Therefore, the people that you are trying to engage and trying to appeal to aren’t people. So, it kinda goes against the whole idea of building a profile, to begin with.
TM: I guess what I’m trying to say is the bigger your following, the more you can get your message across and the better it would be for your business and your brand.
JB: Oh, certainly. If you have more people following you and watching every single day and then you want to sell something, it’s better to have two million followers than two hundred.
TM: But you never bought followers.
TM: I have a lot of friends who have done it, and it is really easily traceable though ’cause you can enter the username and see the spike in numbers.
JB: It is.
But also be careful when you start saying that. They do a lot of these things called the follower clean up, so if someone followed you but hasn’t used Instagram in the last two years, their account gets deactivated. Because that person who hasn’t used Instagram for two years, it no longer counts as an actual active follower. So, they, therefore, shouldn’t appear on someone’s follower figures. So they have deactivated those accounts in terms of the number that comes up on who they follow. Which obviously for me, it affected me slightly.
TM: Have you thought about the next couple of years and what you’d want your life to look like?
JB: Well, it’s interesting because I was never really that happy being labelled a teenage entrepreneur millionaire. Because, at the end of the day, as soon as you’ve been put on a pedestal, someone is going to want to take you down, so I never really liked that aspect. Cause you get those people that are like “Why don’t you reveal your stores” blah blah blah blah.
TM: When you’re having like, whether it’s a business meeting about some possible opportunity or whatever, do you reveal your stores to them?
JB: You would find no one really cares, at all. You’d be the first reporter that’s genuinely pushed to know because at the end of the day it’s obvious to see that through what I’ve done but more importantly who I am as an individual.
TM: Do you want to get out of the drop shipping game eventually?
JB: Um, I might. I think as long as I remain passionate about it and in love with it, there’s no reason to get out of it. But, it’s just got to be managed with everything else that I do. Because, there’s a lot of time involved, so it’s just gotta be kind of what’s the return and what’s the payoff.
TM: Thanks, Jack, looking forward to seeing what you do next.
JB: Thanks, Thomas.