By Laura Lynott
HE was just eight-years-old when he designed his first website – and now a 17-year-old entrepreneur is hoping to help teenagers suffering mental health issues with his innovative ‘Positivity Pack.’
James Corneille, from Limerick city, is clearly no ordinary laid back youth. While his friends are playing football or console, James is coming up with business and tech ideas.
And his latest product is an ethical package targeting kids his own age who may be going through depression.
Though a simple idea, the Positivity Pack – which includes bubble wrap, confetti, smiley stickers, a de-stress guide, and positive messages – James says the product will “remind a young person someone cares.”
If you were feeling down and if someone sent you an anonymous gift like this, you know someone noticed you – someone cares.
“I am very interested in business and tech, from a very young age, but I am also interested in mental health.
“We need to do as much as we can for to help the discussion on mental health.
“I’ve seen people go through mental health issues. I think age (teenage years) is a very big factor and bullying and I know even adults suffer workplace bullying – so I would like to see adults buy the pack too for their friends.
“Mental health is not as much as a stigma at it had been but I feel more work needs to be done, to enable teenagers and adults to feel comfortable talking openly about it.
I feel that a lot of people go through mental health problems at one point in their life, and there needs to be more acceptance by society.
“You’d be surprised by how many teenagers are affected by mental health.”
James is a member of the Digital Youth Council (DYC) – a Government-backed group made up of some of the top young people in tech in Ireland.
James and his peers at DYC are influencing the national strategy on tech as the state strives for economic recovery.
He and the other members of the group – the first of its kind in Europe – regularly meet with adult business people to discuss tech.
And it seems while he could be playing console over the holidays, James would prefer to pitch his business ideas in the hope he could just be the next big thing.
“My dad had his own computer repair company and I used to sit in there with him when I was off school and I just had tech embedded in me.
“That’s how I learned how to design websites.”
James has even designed the slick Positivity Pack site – which includes a YouTube animated ad for the product which retails from €6 for the smallest product to €12 for the biggest.
Though much of his young life is about school and business – James insists he still makes time to have fun.
“I love going to the gym, going out with my friends. I take time to relax and I can be lazy too sometimes like a teenager should be.
“All I know is this is what I enjoy doing and my parents are proud of me. They push me to do it but they don’t push it too much. They give me investments, they help me a lot.”
James is not the first bright, young business mind from Limerick. In 2009, then-teenagers, Patrick and John Collison, sold their first tech business for more than €4 million.
The brothers’ online payments company Stripe, launched just over five years ago, was recently valued at €4.6 billion.
Find out more about the Positivity Pack or buy one at: http://www.positivitypack.com/#buy