Ashley Qualls – How a Girl at 14 Made a Million Dollars Website – Whateverlife.com
When she was just 14 years old Ashley Qualls, born in Detroit, launched a site with the idea to publish her personal portfolio of pictures that she was making. The site was started in 2004 under the domain whateverlife.com, which derives from “for whatever life you lead”. Ashley had the humble desire to make a funny and interesting site with “things for anyone and everyone”. Having some knowledge in the field of web design, she began publishing free MySpace layouts and different tutorials helping teenagers with graphic design and programming. Every user with an account on the site also had the ability to upload their projects and share them with everyone on the web. This way the publisher gained points and popularity in the community. The points could be spent later in a virtual mall, for various digital goods.
Sound like a very simple idea – a website, people publish stuff there… But this simple idea actually turned out to be a hugely successful business. People just liked and more importantly – used the site. Very soon after the start of the teenage project, the site quickly began gaining popularity among youngsters from all over the World. The number of monthly visitors jumped to the stunning number of 7 million in a very short time. Then, Verizon Communications – a company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, became an advertiser on the site. With such a name as a partner, the project gained even more popularity. Many other sites started writing bout the huge success of Ashley and her project. In March 2006 an undisclosed buyer made an offer to buy the portal for the amount of 1 500 000 $. What happened next? Well, Ashley refused the money and turned down the offer. Why? Because in most cases entrepreneurs are really after simply money… It’s a typical mindset and such refusals are actually not a rare event, Mark Zuckerberg would turn down $1 billion later in the years for his social network…
In September 2006 Ashley bought a home in a fenced-off subdivision in the community of Southgate. She has been living there since then, with her mother and her younger sister.
Today, her site is still one of the very popular sites in the world. She keeps developing it and adding new features. After the success of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc., Ashley spotted the big potential there and turned the development in a social direction. Now the site is a community of youngsters where everyone can have friends, invite friends, share with other users, be a member of a group, and so on.
The main advertiser on the site, by the date this post is written, appears to be Google. This way no time is spent searching for sponsors, and more time is invested in the site.
I think Ashley Qualls deserves a place in Internet history – how many 14 years old girls do you know, who have launched a million dollars site…. Well, in fact, there are some other such stories… If you love such readings, you can also see here.
Ashley mentors other entrepreneurs and is passionate about helping to empower the youth. She has been featured in interviews, articles, and news segments. In 2012, her website won a Webby Award and in 2013, she was featured in the book ‘Who Inspires You’ alongside other inspirational individuals, including Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey.
In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, Ashley is a speaker and a philanthropist. She has spoken at various conferences, including SXSW and the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit in Toronto. She also raises money for various causes, particularly those involving children in need, and contributes to charities such as the Make-A-Wish foundation, Friends of the Children, and The Wounded Warrior Project.
Ashley Qualls embodies the spirit of a true entrepreneur—she has inspired millions of young entrepreneurs and developers to utilize their creativity and make something amazing.