19-year-old CEO reveals how he beat the naysayers and found success

Eli GreenNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Creating a successful company is no easy feat, but a 19-year-old with something to prove has revealed the one thing that helped him ignore naysayers to create a million-dollar company just a year into becoming an adult.

Div Bedi was just 18 when he decided he would forego university to start his own company, entering the budding drone industry to set up the iDrone training company and cash in on big business and government contracts.

Despite believing in himself, Mr Bedi found himself up against cynics “very quickly” who would tell him that he was too young and inexperienced to find success.

Camera IconDespite being told he was too young to be the chief executive of his own company, Mr Bedi pushed past the doubts NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard Credit: News Corp Australia

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“People told me you’re too young, you won’t make it, it’s too tough in this industry,” he said.

“You’ve just got to keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing to get to the next level - I’m still nowhere near where I want to be.”

Mr Bedi’s interest in business started when he was just 14 when he used his father’s banking details (with permission) to start several e-commerce initiatives selling everything from phone cases to kitchen knives.

“I wasn’t very good at school and I knew I wanted to have the supposedly rich lifestyle which includes money, cars, all that kind of stuff. I knew that the way I was going in school, there was no I could’ve got a job that could facilitate that kind of lifestyle,” he said.

“I realised very quickly that if I don’t get my mind together and start forming some sort of business, then there’s no way I’ll get there.”

He spent hours pouring over the dropshipping process, and after he had a few online stores that didn’t make a profit, two products began to sell and he had his “first taste of success”.

While his friends were taking on part-time jobs, Mr Bedi dedicated hours of each day to his online businesses and eventually he saw thousands of dollars rolling in the door - most of which he gave to his father.

“I had to wake up at four in the morning before school [to do it] because my parents were telling me to go to school because they didn’t see the vision,” he said.

“So I was just trying to prove them wrong, prove everybody wrong.”

Camera IconDrone training is still an emerging industry, but pilots have to be taught the ropes before they can work. NCA NewsWire / Sarah Matray Credit: News Corp Australia

Despite his entrepreneurial spirit, he began a construction management degree at his parent’s wishes, something he describes as “depressing” as he was seeking a greater challenge.

Things changed when he heard about drone pilot training, a new industry that a family friend was trying to crack into.

“His main goal was to approve [the business] and flip it to sell it but he couldn’t ever get through the approval state because it just takes too much work, it’s very hard and the regulators are tough,” he said.

“So that’s where I got the idea from, I thought, ‘if I can get the company at least approved, then I’d be in a good position’, but I knew I could do way more than that.”

He said his decision to put everything on hold to pursue the business was inspired by watching The Social Network, a movie about Mark Zuckerberg creating Facebook.

“From that night from when I watched the movie, I basically just went downstairs and did a bunch of research,” he said.

“I didn’t even know what I was doing. I just did one step at a time and kept figuring out the process.

“There were times when I made a lot of stupid mistakes, like calling up my competitors and asking them for advice. You get confused but when you keep taking the next step and the step after it kind of all comes together.”

Camera IconDrone pilots are required in the media, to survey landscapes for mining and construction companies, and for safety purposes. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

From then on, he would head to university, not to go to class but to spend hours in the library working on setting up the business and gaining regulatory approval to set up his drone pilot school.

Mr Bedi said negative comments about his age from others in the industry and potential clients came “very quickly” and he chose to grow a beard to appear older.

“At the start, it was a bit hurtful but then it became motivational. There was never a thought of quitting or giving up, I just thought ‘I have to prove this guy wrong, this guy wrong’,” he said.

“You keep getting setbacks, people have told me to eff off over the phone before. Once you’ve seen all that your mind becomes calloused and you’re not afraid of anything.”

There was also the question of his university education, with his parents now furious that he had been skipping class.

“My parents were obviously very, very angry because even though my dad has a business, they’ve still got a traditional mindset… I was always have this hustler mentality where I thought the person who worked the hardest always wins, no matter what kind of qualification you have.”

Camera IconHe says he may look at slowing down in the future, but right now it’s full speed ahead.. NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard Credit: News Corp Australia

But once he gained regulatory approval and started taking on clients, including training drone pilots for some of the country’s biggest miners, things changed.

With iDrone valued at just shy of $1 million and forecasts of nearly $3 million in turnover over the next three years, he now has his parents’ blessing to do things his own way.

The 19-year-old has one piece of advice for those with dreams of starting a business: be determined and don’t give up.

“I think a lot people start things and then ditch them halfway through or they have a lot of distractions like having a girlfriend or the friends calling them out to party…truth be told it’s times like those where you need to knuckle down,” he said.

“People just need to stay focused and stick to it, there were periods of time where I didn’t see anything from the business and I would come to work and do the same thing [as I do now], I wouldn’t get distracted, I didn’t ditch it.”

Originally published as 19-year-old CEO reveals how he beat the naysayers and found success

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