One of Germany’s youngest entrepreneurs comes from Brand-Erbisdorf in Saxony
Patrik Phan set up his web design agency Designtoasty when he was just 16 years old.
Patrik Phan will never forget the 26th of June 2013. “That was the day I got the go-ahead from Freiberg District Court to set up my web agency, Designtoasty,” says Phan, who was born in Brand-Erbisdorf, Saxony. In Germany, a minor requires court approval in order to establish a business and operate with the same rights as an adult. The Youth Office also has to agree that the young person is mature enough. The application and approval procedure for Patrik’s business took three years and he managed it all on his own without any assistance – starting when he was just 16 years of age.
Getting a lift with dad to the first customer meeting
“I became seriously interested in the Internet when I was 11, and started experimenting with web design. I just find it really fascinating,” says the switched-on youngster, who is now in year 12 at Julius Weisbach vocational school in Freiberg. His parents have always supported his efforts even though they are employed in completely different fields. “My mother and brother both work in the catering industry. My father comes from Vietnam and has worked for one of the region’s largest industrial companies for many years,” says Phan. Even though his parents might not understand everything their young son does, they know it is his passion and can see he is very talented at it. “My father drove me to my first customer meeting,” says Patrik, with a smile. The young entrepreneur now works with SMEs throughout Germany while also attending school full time. He juggles a heavy load.
Combining schoolwork and a job: Patrik works an 18-hour day
“It sometimes feels like I have an awful lot on my plate, especially on long days when I don’t get home from school until late in the afternoon,” says Patrik. “I have to do my homework first before I can make a start on my web design work. I often carry on until midnight, but that means it’s difficult to get up at six the next day and it makes me quite grumpy.” His friend David Klemm, who is taking the same advanced IT course as Phan, nods understandingly. “I didn’t know anything about his business at first,” he says. “Not until Patrik told me about it during an English class.” They were talking about hobbies and what they did in their spare time. The 18-year-old doesn’t have much time for friends or sport; his agency is essentially his hobby. “But even so, I still go to parties every now and then!” he says, laughing. David confirms that Patrik is a completely normal guy with both feet firmly on the ground.
A local celebrity
Patrik has appeared in the media in his local area, which caused a wave of excitement at his school. Headteacher Dr Frank Wehrmeister says: “We were stunned when we read about Patrik in the newspaper. We’ve never had anything like it before.” Wehrmeister knows that it’s hard to combine school and work at Patrik’s age and says he’s not an A-grade student. Patrik knows that, of course, and understands that he needs to organise his time effectively and be clear about his priorities. He has his sights firmly set on his ultimate goal: “I want to study specialist computing, so it’s really important for me to get my university entrance qualifications.” Very few people start a degree course equipped with as much commercial experience straight after leaving school, but Patrik is destined to be one of them.