/  07.05.2022
WATCH

Mcd Jaylen Bledsoe

00:04:20

Jaylen Bledsoe found his calling before he was able to get behind the wheel of a car. While in the 6th grade, Jaylen decided to teach himself how to code and quickly learned he could monetize this skill, finding success early and often. He says, “I got paid $10 a project, $20 a project, and by 7th grade, I was making $150 an hour. By the time I was 15 or 16, [I was making] about $3.5 million a year in revenue.”

This would prove to be just the beginning of it all. Before he could legally vote, Bledsoe employed over 150 people around the world and was offering a range of IT services to companies across the United States. His hustle didn’t stop there. The young entrepreneur shared his journey as part of McDonald’s “Future 22” — a group of 22 dynamic, Black leaders that are making waves in their communities.

Bledsoe may be managing partner of his own global IT solutions business now, but the 24- year-old technology CEO did not start out in life with a silver spoon. He says, “My parents had me at 16 years old, and I lived in a single-parent household for 13 years; we were absolutely, completely poor and I also saw my mom go through abuse.”

After developing an interest in web design and computer sciences through a school program, Bledsoe found a way to change his situation, launching a web design company, Bledsoe Technologies LLC, at just 14 years old. The 2014 Ebony Power 100 nominee regards change as a necessary and positive part of life. He says, “Change is important for my community because the worst thing we can do is be complacent.”

Bledsoe is the epitome of “practice what you preach.” He could’ve stopped at his first company, which was making millions of dollars by the time he graduated high school, but he decided he wanted more. He grew his company to become a global tech player, got into venture capital funding and became a highly sought-after motivational speaker. He has served as a keynote speaker for companies and institutions such as Disney, Google, Stanford University and the National Society of Black Engineers, to name a few.

Bledsoe then went on to earn the Presidential Academic Excellence Award and decided to turn his success into opportunities for others by starting the Bledsoe Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on resources and education around financial literacy for underprivileged youth. The St. Louis native is simply, in his own mind, “paying it forward.” His mantra #RedefineMySuccess is a part of his drive to help others by doing what he loves. He says, “I think it’s important that we know what success is to us versus what it is to society.”

For Bledsoe, “success” isn’t simply about amassing more wealth or just bettering his own situation, it’s about going out into the world and doing for others what was done for him –providing opportunities, resources, education and change. He says, “I am a believer, I know who’s giving me all that … I’ve given away my wealth three times in my lifetime. My responsibility is blessing people.” To Bledsoe, lifting up his community is what equates to his success.

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