CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Elijah Pullings was only 14 years old when he decided what he wanted to do with this life. Instead of waiting until he grew up, the aspiring entrepreneur jumped right in.
“Life is very competitive, so I feel like you should always get an early start on whatever you do,” he said.
At 18, he’s already had a few businesses under his belt. It all started when the Monacan High School senior met a man named Michael Triplett.
“One day he just drove passed my house,” said Pullings. “So I walked up to him and I asked him what he did.”
The curiosity paid off. Pullings says the Cigna executive took him under his wing.
“He was very easy to talk to,” said Pullings.
Now, he considers Triplett a mentor and an inspiration.
“I’ve been blessed to have great mentors. A lot of people don’t really grow up with a mentor like I have,” he said.
He lists his father, investor Warren Buffett and African-American billionaire businessman Robert F. Smith as additional inspiration.
At 14, Pullings launched his first business — selling tires and used car accessories.
“Used tire shops have tires they don’t really need just sitting there and they’re willing to give them away,” he said. “So I thought, you know, it’s pretty easy to sell online because people need tires.”
He does it all on Craigslist and eBay.
He posts pictures, crafts appealing ads and then negotiates deals with buyers.
“The hardest part was lifting the rims,” he said of selling the free tires.
Two years later, he started his next business — a mobile car wash.
“That probably took off the fastest out of any business because everybody needs a car wash,” he said. “That’s very high in demand, and I was traveling to them.”
Pullings already knows what he wants to do next.
He says he’ll go to college and study business and finance while minoring in contracting law. The ultimate goal is opening his own enterprise focusing on merges and acquisitions.
But most of all he says he wants to return the favor by being a mentor himself.
“I hope one day this kid walks up to me, I’m in my neighborhood, drive past him or whatever and he says, hey, I would love for you to mentor me. I’d be like heck yeah.”
Pullings recently started YouthPreneur Foundation, which aims to connect young, aspiring entrepreneurs, leaders and politicians.
“We want to be able to come together, share our ideas, strategies on how to execute and game plan,” he said.
To learn more about YouthPreneur Foundation, click HERE.
All this week, 8News anchor Evanne Armour is highlighting young people doing big things. Her series continues Tuesday with a trio of siblings who took their love of technology and turned it into a virtual reality business. See that story on Good Morning Richmond and 8News at 9.