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Entries in North Alabama University (1)

Tuesday
Apr052011

Alabama Math Whiz, 9, Launches Web Business

Comstock/Thinkstock (FLORENCE, Ala.) -- Silicon Valley superstars, you'd better watch out. Your next big competitor might not be a college dropout, but a grade school whiz kid.

Last month, nine-year-old Maggie Huang of Florence, Alabama, started her very own business. And it wasn't a lemonade stand or cookie table set up outside her house, but a Web startup called SmartMaggie.com.

"It's about business stuff and you can post problems on it," she said. "[Visitors] can ask about a general business problem -- installing [Microsoft] Access questions and mathematics questions. Stuff like that."

Want some help tackling Microsoft Office's database software? Or building your own website? Or even answering basic math questions? Maybe Maggie can help.

So far, the young site hasn't attracted too much attention and, for now, Maggie said she'll answer questions for free. But she said she'll consider charging customers for services once the business takes off.

"I just, like, make websites and Web design [and] create databases and then they pay me," she said.

Like your average fourth grader, Maggie said she likes to play soccer, watch the Disney Channel and read. But when it comes to math, the young entrepreneur is hardly average at all.

Yingping Huang, Maggie's father and associate professor of computer science at the University of North Alabama, said she first showed her talent as a toddler. At three, he said, she figured out how to multiply seven by seven by counting it all out in her head. "She amazed me," he said.

Since then, he's supplemented her school lessons with his own instruction, even teaching her some college-level math.

The University of North Alabama even made a special exemption to allow Maggie to join an "early scholars" math program reserved for middle and high school students. She also recently won second place in the international Math Kangaroo competition and is among the youngest certified Microsoft Office Specialists in the world, Huang said.

SmartMaggie.com was intended to be an extension of her education, he said. So with some help from the local business development center, he said they helped Maggie launch SmartMaggie.com, LLC.

Maggie said she's not certain about her future career plans, but said she'll "probably" keep working with computers and math.

But if she decides to try her hand at tech startups, she's already learned one key lesson: "Making a business does take a lot of patience, because sometimes you don't get the work and you have to wait until something happens," Maggie said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio