Business & Real Estate

Pinewood student serves as envoy to start-ups

Photos courtesy of Maxine Marcus
Maxine Marcus is a Pinewood School student and CEO of a new teen-focused consultancy, The Ambassadors Company.

Virtually any start-up worth its venture capital must get young people excited about its product. It’s a consultant’s dream to advise companies on how to attract teenagers.

Maxine Marcus is already there – she fits consulting in between classes, golf practice and tech club. Marcus, a 16-year-old junior at Pinewood School, is CEO of The Ambassadors Company, which gives companies teen insights into their products.

“The Ambassadors Company provides a group of teens who have the ability to give clear, articulate and honest insights, ideas, feedback and suggestions in order to provide the teen perspective,” Marcus explained. “We don’t just give data and basic critiquing, we provide in-depth insight with actionable items to clearly state what a product needs to do to be appealing to the teen market.”

She founded the company after working at BounceChat for a year.

“They really wanted that teen insight,” she said. “I had this group of teens I hired and I was basically managing them.”

According to Marcus, she was a core member of BounceChat and a huge part of its development.

“It made them realize, ‘Hey, we should do more,’” she said. “It was so crucial for the development of BounceChat. All of a sudden, I was talking to all of these CEOs, and they said, ‘Come do this for us!”

Like many ideas in the Bay Area, things moved fast, and soon Marcus was running a team of 40 teenagers who represent teen consumption patterns and tastes to start-ups. She started the company in April and began by recruiting friends.

“It’s a really good job for teens because it’s super flexible and they can either decline or sign up for a job. They usually make $50 per job,” Marcus said.

She emphasized that this only holds true if they are serious about their work.

“I’m in direct contact with higher executives at these companies,” she said. “It’s important to take the job seriously. I have over 40 people, and I have not had a single person not take this seriously. I hate chasing people.”

Her employees are not just from Pinewood or even Silicon Valley – she works with many teens in San Jose, Marin and on the East Coast.

Marcus makes no small plans, but she enjoys working on the scrappy side of Silicon Valley.

“Finding out about new companies – I love that. It’s so much fun,” she said. “One of the really cool things that we do is test stuff out that’s not even out yet.”

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