Get All Access for $5/mo

How This 14-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Making Adults Question Their Life Choices by Being Ridiculously Awesome Rachel Zietz is the founder and owner of Gladiator Lacrosse. In school, sales and sports, she plays to win.

By Carly Okyle

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Rachel Zietz

For high-school freshman Rachel Zietz, landing a spot on the varsity lacrosse team was a surprise. For her teammates, there was a bigger surprise: finding out that their newest member creates the practice equipment they use at home.

"I tell them, "Yeah, that's my company,' and they're like, "Oh, that's so cool!'" she says.

Zietz, 14, is the founder of Gladiator Lacrosse, a line of rebounders and practice goals for lacrosse players to use in their backyards. She started the company in 2013 after being unable to find equipment that would hold up under intense practicing.

The tween honor student from Boca Raton, Fla., is competitive on and off the field. She finds time to run her company during free periods at school, before and after lacrosse practice and on weekends. (During class, her one employee handles orders.) She shares space in the warehouse her parents use for their own company, and while she needs Mom and Dad to drive her to meetings (she'll get her learner's permit on June 24) and offer advice on occasion, she says that suppliers and customers treat her with the respect they give to older business owners.

"People don't treat me like a kid; people treat me like I'm a business woman," she says.

Related: The 6 Attributes Shared by Young Millionaires

Zietz works with manufacturers overseas to select durable, high-quality materials for her products. The products themselves are made overseas and shipped to her for distribution to retailers and consumers. Buyers assemble the equipment themselves using a simple set of instructions.

Starting a line of more durable lacrosse equipment was a natural decision -- both because entrepreneurship runs in the family and because Zietz is a lacrosse player herself. She took a 33-week program called the Young Entrepreneur's Academy, and at the end of it, pitched to investors her idea for high-quality lacrosse products. She won just over $2,700, and with it, worked with suppliers overseas to secure her first 45-foot container of goals and rebounders. That container can hold 250 rebounders and 500 goals, but it's no longer big enough. Zietz now needs full containers, which hold 500 rebounders and 1,100 goals, for her growing business.

Unsurprisingly, the company has experienced some growing pains. Given that she uses a factory in China, Zeitz once was unable to fill orders because she'd underestimated how long it would take for a product shipment to reach her. She's since learned to reorder when her containers are half empty. She's also looking into a domestic factory and negotiating with other factories in China for additional products she is evaluating.The setback didn't hurt sales, which reached $200,000 in their first year. This year, Gladiator Lacrosse is on track to bring in over $1 million.

Those revenue figures come from the sales of just two products. Not for long, though. "We're looking to expand into the lacrosse ball market," Zietz says. "We've been researching standards, so we'll have balls with different colors."

Related: What You Can Learn From 8 Kids Already Making a Million Dollars

Also on tap is a line of compression socks. Other future plans include working on an endorsement deal and looking into expanding into sports retailers such as Brine in Boston. The company is also a sponsor of the Orange Bowl Lacrosse Classic and other tournaments.

Moreover, Amazon.com users rate the company's goals and rebounders, which currently retail at $120 and $200 respectively, as the best in their category, even above brand names that are better-known. It makes sense, then, that Zietz's accomplishments now include being a finalist for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's 2015 Entrepreneur Award for young professionals. She lost the Under 35 Entrepreneur of the Year category to a 34-year-old, but she took home the "Rising Star" award. She's not worried about the loss, since she has another two decades of eligibility.

Zietz's siblings -- Jordan, 13, and Morgan, 9 -- might also have futures as entrepreneurs. Jordan is a recent winner of an elevator pitch competition at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, while Morgan is constantly pitching business ideas to the family.

Even if someone with an entrepreneurial spirit doesn't have a family history of taking that path, Rachel advises not letting that get in the way. Age shouldn't be a barrier either. "It's never too young to start. I started when I was 13, and it was successful. Most people are afraid, but if you're passionate about it, you're never too young."

Related: This 15-Year-Old Founder Is Raking in Six Figures With Her Booming Babysitting Business

Carly Okyle

Editorial Assistant

Carly Okyle is an editorial assistant at Entrepreneur.com.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Marketing

Patagonia and Oatly Just Used This Clever Tactic for Better Brand Visibility — Here's How You Can Replicate It

Even small and medium-sized companies can effectively leverage the same PR strategy that big brands use to earn significant media coverage and audience engagement, despite limited resources.

Side Hustle

This Former Disney Princess Lived 'Paycheck to Paycheck' Before Starting a Side Hustle at Home — Now She Makes $250,000 a Year

Victoria Carroll's income was "sporadic" until a friend encouraged her to take her talents to Fiverr in 2018.

Business News

'This Is the Final Straw': Elon Musk Says He's Moving X, SpaceX to Texas

Both companies are currently headquartered in California.

Business News

Taylor Swift Revealed the Surprising Way She Prepares Her Mind and Body for Big Moments

If you've got big plans and big dreams, Swift's approach can be the game-changer.

Leadership

He Didn't Want to Lead His $1 Billion Business the Same Way Anymore — Here's How the High-Stakes Switch-Up Paid Off

Advait Shinde, co-founder and former CEO of educational software company GoGuardian, was ready for a change. So was former COO of LegalZoom Rich Preece.