Tori's a teen entrepreneur, motivator
Jun 2, 2014
She looks like the girl next door but thinks like Donald Trump.
Meet Tori Molnar: PA Cyber graduating senior, CEO of her own company, sales dynamo, motivational speaker, Gen-Y blogger.
At age 14 this southwestern Pennsylvania resident founded her own company to market fashion jewelry with an innovative "to teens by teens" approach. Told it couldn't be done, she's doing it anyway, giving teen girls the chance to earn cash and BYOB -- Become Your Own Boss.
She travels the country as a motivational speaker. As a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, she's a spokesperson for Generation Y. Tori recently has been working on a reality television proposal with Finola Hughes of TV's "General Hospital."
Did we mention she also overcame cerebral palsy? The girl who went to Disney World as a Make-a-Wish kid in a wheelchair now is training to run in a Disney World 5K.
Diagnosed as a tot with cerebral palsy, she endured years of medical procedures and physical therapy. At age 16 many of her disabilities were erased or diminished when a physician used neuro-feedback therapy.
Until she tells them her story, people who see her standing on stage, delivering a motivational talk, have no idea of the physical challenges this young woman has overcome.
A teen empowering teens
Tori's big mission is to empower teenage girls to become successful entrepreneurs.
"My freshman year in high school, all my friends were looking for jobs. I didn't want to work at Mickey D's or be a waitress, and some of those jobs I was not physically capable of doing," she said. "I wanted to sell fashion jewelry. I was really passionate about it."
Tori began attending business workshops to educate herself. She soon found a kindred spirit – coincidentally also named Tory – who became her friend and mentor. Tory Johnson took Tori Molnar under her wing.
"Tory Johnson was doing a (conference) series called Spark and Hustle. She was my first-ever mentor."
Johnson was impressed by Tori's ideas, enthusiasm, and ability to communicate. "She asked me to be the official youth speaker on the Spark and Hustle tour, and I started traveling with her."
Tori was already missing three days of school a week because of therapy. Traveling for the speaking tour brought the issue to a head.
"I was actually failing high school. My principal sat my mother down and said that I had to be in school or we would have a truancy issue. I started PA Cyber in February of my freshman year."
Too much success, too soon
Tori's 26-year old dad died when she was 18 months old, leaving her mother a widow at 23. Survivor's benefits from her dad gave her some working capital for her business. Her family matched the legacy. Tori thought she was pretty well-funded with $20,000 in cash.
She set up her company, named it Utoria, started a website and began recruiting an all-girl sales force. Tori's name and idea spread like wildfire through blogs and news articles.
"Utoria kind of blew up with media coverage," said Tori. "The company almost imploded. I had to shut it down and rebuild from the ground up."
She talked, people listened
Utoria's forced hiatus taught Tori some hard lessons, but it didn't diminish her enthusiasm. She had a voice and a story, and people listened.
She fell in love with traveling, and honed her speaking skills. Along the way she met like-minded businesspeople who freely offered advice.
Attending a marketing conference at age 14 was a big event in her life.
"It was 'Direct Sales 101,' everything you needed to know," she said. "But it also was a really awful experience because they said you can't have reps under 18 and at that point all of my reps were under 18. The whole reason I started Utoria is because there wasn't a direct sales opportunity for younger girls. I started to think, oh, my, I'm never going to make this happen."
Quitting is not an option
Instead of retreating, Tori attacked her problems and sought allies. She negotiated discounts with vendors. She picked up more speaking dates, building up funds to inject into her business.
She tweaked Utoria's business plan while keeping the basic concept.
Utoria's ethos is to create more young women entrepreneurs. She plans to re-launch it at invitation-only events across the country, looking for ambitious young women whom she can help lead to success.
"For me, quitting is never an option," Tori said. "When I was battling CP when I was younger, I learned you keep going and you do what you can. I don't have a backup plan. I don't plan on having a traditional job. There is one way and one way only."
Tori said PA Cyber provided the kind of school she needed at this time of her life. It allowed her to earn an honest high school diploma and race down a true entrepreneurial road at the same time.
About PA Cyber
Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.