Caleb Melby, Forbes Staff
Maybe you’ve heard. Out in East L.A., there’s a kid named Caine Monroy. He made an arcade in his dad’s auto parts store. Out of cardboard boxes. If you haven’t already, you need to check out this video that details his saga.
There’s a lot going on here. For one, Caine clearly has a heart of gold, and it shines through in this video. But it’s also a stunning portrayal of a young entrepreneur in action. Where the layman sees a pile of beat up cardboard boxes and old toys, Caine sees an arcade. His sheer inventiveness captured the imagination of dozens of folks in the Forbes offices (and, as the Youtube ticker indicates, plenty of others throughout the world). But you don’t need to report on billionaire entrepreneurs to see that Caine exhibits the best traits of the best ones. Here’s why we expect to find Caine on our list a few decades down the road:
1. He Is A Kid Running A Business
Anthony Wing Kosner Contributor
This is a huge tip-off. Almost as a rule, billionaire entrepreneurs have origin stories that involve peddling and salesmanship from an early age. Sara Blakely ran a haunted house, Kevin Plank sold bracelets at Grateful Dead concerts. This isn’t behavior to be ignored. It is indicative of a not-so-mythical thing: Entrepreneurial Spirit.
2. He Lives In California
There are more billionaires in California than in any other state. Silicon Valley is there, and with it the venture capitalists who are looking to fund the next big idea. As Caine grows up, he’ll have the opportunity to rub shoulders with important, wealthy and influential people. Just ask rug dealer turned VC Pejman Nozad.
3. He Has Passion
The best entrepreneurs are devoted to and love what they do. Caine loves arcades. So he made his own. In his commencement speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs talked about loving the work you do: “I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20.” Again, Caine is nine years old. His love for his business borders on obsession. That’s not a bad thing. He’ll need that obsession to grow his future enterprises.
4. That Passion Is Infectious
In expanding a business empire, being able to communicate passion and vision is key. Nirvan, Caine’s first customer, was enthralled by Caine’s enthusiasm. So he made a video. Then he invited all of L.A. to the arcade. By sheer force of personality and energy, Caine drew others to his cause. In the future, that will attract talent — and cash.
5. He is lucky
Calculate the odds. What are the chances that a hip, benevolent filmmaker is Caine’s first customer?
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6. He Has Seemingly Impossible Perseverance
Did you see all those shots of Caine sitting there, waiting for someone to come to the arcade? And the part where he pitches the arcade to his dad’s customers? What is that about? Shouldn’t he be at the pool? Or playing Yu-Gi-Oh or Xbox? What nine year old has that sort of attention span — that crystalline clear devotion? James Dyson famously worked through 5,127 prototypes of his first vacuum cleaner before he took it to market. Caine has the time and the desire to improve upon his model and make it even better.
7. He Displays Irrational Optimism
Caine is off to a bright start, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have hard times ahead. His belief in his abilities and his conviction of purpose will help see him through. Caine’s fellow gaming magnate, Sheldon Adelson, was near default before his fortune soared to $25 billion. So don’t give up, Caine.
8. He Is Willing To Work On A Shoe-String Budget
You’ve seen The Social Network. Sure, a bunch of it was grossly inaccurate, but not the part where you see a few guys coding endlessly in dorm rooms (and later in Zuck’s house). You don’t get to party like a billionaire unless you work like a prole first. Caine assessed what he had and made of it what he could. His overhead is minimal. That’s critical when a business is in its early stages.
9. He Already Has More Than $120,000 In Funding
You can visit Caine’s website if you’d like to donate to his college fund. Or, who knows, maybe he’ll follow in the steps of John Paul DeJoria and 26 other members of the Forbes 400 — skipping that step of his journey entirely. He’ll put it to good use, either way.