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Startup Spotlight: Ben Way

At 19, Way is young even for an Internet entrepreneur - but has he paid too high a price for his funding?

Ben Way, recently named British Young Entrepreneur of the year for his search engine Waysearch, has joined the list of dotcom millionaires -- but at what expense? At just nineteen, his investors have cornered him into signing a contract that would seem to violate his rights as a teenager -- such as the right to party.

The Jersey-based funders included in their contract a clause that prevents Way from having a girlfriend, sex, alcohol and any change of appearance for the duration of their funding. He is also not allowed to stay out beyond 11pm unless accompanied by an approved member of the board.

"I was shocked" Way admits, "to begin with I thought that they must be joking, but I really wanted to do this." Way insists that their motives for including this clause were purely to protect their investment -- they couldn't trust a nineteen year old to not go mad with their money.

He firmly dispels the opinion that they were out to exploit his age -- "They wanted to keep me on the straight and narrow."

Way is adamant that he does not regret signing this agreement, but is honest in admitting that when the one year contract expires "they had better change their terms and conditions!" Way may be worth millions, but like any teenager he asserts "I am nineteen, and want to enjoy being nineteen."

See also Startup Spotlight: Waysearch.com

Startup Spotlight is a weekly feature on ZDNet UK News and ZDNet techTrader, featuring the bright sparks of the UK's high-tech startup industry. For more of the faces behind the news see the Startup Spotlight archive.

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