WATERVILLE, Maine — A teenage boy from Waterville is finding success off the typical path, proving education and career trajectory can look different for everyone.
Parker Redlevske, 14, owns the new electronics repair store, Techy Waterville, at Elm Plaza. The shop officially had its soft launch Monday, which means the teenager, who hasn't even finished high school yet, is in business.
"I'm most excited about helping people out, because not a lot of people know how to do it," Redlevske said.
He said his fascination began after watching videos online of people repairing phones.
"I was like, 'That's really interesting. I'd like to try to do that. Maybe I could make money fixing people's phones like that,'" Redlevske said, likening to process to using Legos.
In some ways, Redledvke's success started with a bit of luck. His stepdad, Jonathan Irwin, went to a Grant Cardone business conference in September 2021. One of his people couldn't make it, so Redlevske asked if he could go. Irwin agreed.
"He went, and he was networking with business owners," Irwin said.
At one point, Cardone brought Redlevske up on stage and asked him about his goals. A video of their interaction went viral online and caught the attention of Techy Company co-founder Timothy Phelps, who reached out to Redlevske via social media in October.
"When I [was] watching this video, Parker's standing there, and I'm thinking, 'Look at this youth. He wants to start his own business, and that's exactly what we need in Techy,'" Phelps said.
By January, Redlevske had raised the $20,000 he needed to open a storefront. In total, the venture has cost almost $100,000, and Techy is covering a lot of that cost. Redlevske has his own bank account and has learned about the business, working with lawyers, and getting hands-on with technology.
"Since Parker has been 11, he's been like, 'Can I work over the summer? Can I work over the summer?'" Amy Irwin, Redlevske's mom, said. She and Jonathan Irwin said that drive likely comes from the way she raised her son to be independent.
"Since he was 3 years old, he had chores. Just little things, like giving the dog food and helping me with dishes [by] wiping them down," Amy Irwin said.
Amy and Jonathan Irwin used to work in the cellphone business, and they actually met at the storefront where Redlevske is now running his business. In a lot of ways, Redlevske grew up at the store he can now call his own.
The family agreed it would be helpful for Redlevske to be involved with all aspects of the business to start out, so they decided to start homeschooling, per Redlevske's request. The online courses have even included an entrepreneur class, which is right up his alley.
"Parker is very determined. If there's something he wants to do, he does it," Jonathan Irwin said.
"I can't believe this is my child," Amy Irwin said. "I'm beyond proud of him."
The family said the end goal is for Redlevske to just monitor the store and have employees. A grand opening celebration for Techy Waterville is expected to happen within the next few weeks.