Creative Child

What Does a Confident Kid Look Like?

Like Someone Who’s Willing to Fail
by Deborah Song

Shreyas Parab is the founder and CEO of Novel Tie, a tie company creating witty and silly ties. His ties not only help uniform-bound students, as well as the young-at-heart add flare and individuality to restrictive dress codes, but Shreyas founded Novel Tie on the notion that a funny tie could start conversations for you. Talk about a great icebreaker.

Novel Tie is projected to rake in $50,000 next year, which would double the revenue in only its second full year of business. Making money was never the goal, as seldom is for kid entrepreneurs, but Shreyas uses his profitable business as a philanthropic platform and gives back to the community that “took a chance on him.”

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The success of his first company also lead Shreyas to partner with his best friend and 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champion, Sriram Hathwar, to found Spell for Success, a company that helps students win the spelling bee contest. Shreyas has also given five Tedx talks and is himself a two-time Scripps National Speller. He’s sat down with Walmart’s CEO, as well as his state senator, Bob Casey, to discuss the expansion of youth entrepreneurship in Philadelphia. Shreyas is 16 years old.

Despite what you may think he thinks of himself, Shreyas is a self-described, socially awkward kid who does not enjoy public speaking. His stomach knots on the podium like the rest of America. He gets nervous, questions himself at times and has failed. I doubt he thinks of himself as the face of confidence.

During our 60-minute interview, however, Shreyas helped me deconstruct what confidence is. We all know it takes a confident person to takes risks and be vulnerable. However, Shreyas doesn’t take ambitious chances because he feels indestructible or when he feels great about himself. Some may, and they often reek of arrogance. For Shreyas, though, the benefits of putting himself out there simply outweigh the sting of failure. Shreyas’ confidence is built on experience, and trial and error, not ego.

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Shreyas didn’t always have this view on failure. His foray into the business of risk likely started on the baseball field (maybe sooner, but certainly not later). He was terrible at baseball. His coach told him he should stick to the outfield. But it was on the baseball field, where Shreyas came head to head with a roadblock and made the choice to look elsewhere, which is often where confidence begins: with a single decision to keep going, even if it’s in another direction.

“I used to see all those [spelling bee] kids on ESPN. The same time of the year, the little league baseball championship was going on and I thought how cool would it be to be on ESPN,” admits Shreyas.

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