Wunderkinds: Robert Karp, 16

Founder & CEO, Karp Enterprises LLC

This Wunderkind doesn’t have a college degree or an MBA. In fact, he doesn’t even have a high school diploma. All of that is in the future, though. Right now, 16-year-old Robert Karp is focused on running his travel consulting company, Karp Enterprises LLC, and finishing up his junior year at Briarcliff High School. 

While most people wrangle with the frustrating realm of airline points systems and booking flights, Karp navigates it seamlessly for his clients, saving them upwards of $40,000 on their vacations. The self-taught frequent-travel guru started out helping his dad, a frequent business flyer, make the most of his points by using them to fly first class rather than economy. Then he did the same for his father’s friends; and, after booking a seemingly impossible trip to Minneapolis in the midst of airport closures during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and a trip to France and Israel that saved his family $35,000, he went pro, founding Karp Enterprises in November 2012. 

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Since then, Karp has become an all-in-one travel consultant for some 50 different clients. Originally focused specifically on frequent-flyer points, he realized he was “losing out on the money” he could be making if he booked hotel rooms as well. So he teamed up with his aunt, a veteran travel agent, about six months ago. Now Karp offers “a one-stop solution for your travel needs—somebody who not only maximizes your rewards points, but at the same time ties in and builds a trip,” he explains. 

Karp, who is now affiliated with top travel consortiums like The Ritz-Carlton STARS program, is turning a profit most 16-year-olds could only wish to earn—$7,600 in revenue in the first two months of 2014, compared with $11,000 total the previous year. Even Fortune magazine has taken notice, using him as an expert for its “Money Sense” blog. The only downfall? “I don’t get enough sleep,” says Karp.

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