As Teens Struggle To Find Jobs Some Turn Their Family’s Online Shopping into Real Dollars

Teens currently face depression level unemployment[1] but it didn’t happen overnight. John Williamson, co-founder of Boostapal.com a website where teens earn money when their family shops, saw signs of teen employment issues back in 2008. “As small business owners, my co-founder and I were getting dozens of resumes daily from teens beginning in early 2008,” Williamson explains. “The problem was that they weren’t remotely qualified for the available jobs. Doing a little research we found it to be a nationwide problem. We began to look for a way to assist teens through the difficult times. It’s then that we came up with an idea to put an adult’s shopping dollars to work for a young person in their life.”

Boostapal takes marketing dollars that online stores pay out when a referred customer buys a product or service and redirects most of it to the buyer’s teen. “It’s a pretty simple process,” Williamson explains. “After a teen joins the site she will log into her account and invite adults she knows who shop online. When the adult clicks the link in the invitation and joins Boostapal the adult is automatically linked to the teen as her Booster. Now, any time the Booster shops at one of the stores in the Boostapal mall (we have over 1500) we forward a portion of the purchase price to the teen. We call this money forwarded to the teen a “Boost.” The Booster will see the purchase in her account and the teen will see the “Boost” but the teen will not see anything related to the purchase such as the purchase amount and store. That information is kept private for the Booster.”

Online marketing isn’t a new concept. Nearly every ad you see on the Internet is in some way “monetized” which mean someone is receiving money because you clicked the ad. It may be Google receiving the money or it may be an advertiser who placed the ad trying to get a click. Where Boostapal.com shakes things up is by letting an adult choose who will receive part of the money he spends – a young person in his life or a stranger. Williamson explains, “If I handed you $ 5.00 and told you that you can give it to a young person you care about or leave it in the street for a stranger to find, which would you choose? If you’d choose a young person then Boostapal is probably right for you. We give you control over your online shopping dollars. Money will go to someone, we just let you choose who that person will be.”

Boostapal is free for all members, teens and adults alike and Williamson assures that prices of products and services purchased are not increased because a teen will benefit from a purchase. “Your shopping experience is the same as it’s always been,” Williamson said. “When you click a store in the Boostapal mall, Target.com for instance, you are immediately directed to the Target website to shop and complete your purchase. A portion of the purchase price is then directed to your teen. The only thing that you do differently is go to Boostapal and click a store in the mall before you shop. That’s it.”

With nearly seven out of ten teens unable to find part-time work,[2] Boostapal.com can help direct some much needed cash their way. “How much a teen will receive with depend on how many Boosters she has and how often they shop,” Williamson explains. “Boostapal teens with four Boosters currently average about $75 per month. By far the biggest issue is forgetfulness by the Boosters. Some forget to click through Boostapal before shopping. Once it becomes a habit though, the money will really add up quickly.” Indeed, with online shopping expected to exceed $262 Billion in 2013[3] there’s a lot of money being tossed to strangers that can now be tossed to your favorite young person.

Janet Martin

References:

1. “Teen Unemployment Hits Record High, Young people scramble to find alternatives to part-time jobs.” Susan Wolff, October 14, 2013.

2. “Teen Employment Hits Record Lows, Suggesting Lost Generation.” Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Washington Bureau. August 29, 2013. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/29/200769/teen-employment-hits-record-lows.html#.UiCkL1cv6kp

3. “U.S. e-commerce to grow 13% in 2013.” Thad Rueter, Senior Editor, Internet Retailer. March 13, 2013. http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/03/13/us-e-commerce-grow-13-2013