Rush Bogin is a 17-year-old businessman who counts Elton John and supermodel Karlie Kloss among his clients.
However, the teenager is neither a musician nor a designer. He is a ‘brand consultant’ at the online gaming platform Roblox and has built his fortune from the comfort of his own bedroom.
The website has quietly become a firm favorite for Generation Z. It allows users to create their own games or play games created by other users, of which there are tens of millions available.
However, some users have managed to take advantage of the platform for much more than entertainment and have made millions selling in-game merchandise.
Game on: Teenager Rush Bogin has built a multi-billion dollar company on the virtual gaming platform Roblox
These often include outfits, hairstyles, and other accessories that players can use for their characters online, and for which they pay real money.
Celebrities and businesses also pay creators, known as developers, to make their own branded items for them to use for marketing purposes, which can be even more lucrative.
Bogin was introduced to Roblox by friends when he was seven years old, but it wasn’t until he was 11 that he began to get involved in the ‘developer community’.
What is Roblox?
Roblox is a website where users can go to create their own games online.
Once created, the games can be played by other users. Players can also add their friends and chat with them while playing the game.
The most recent estimates suggest that there are around 40 million games available to play on the website, which is used by around 66 million people each day.
Users can also convert real money into Roblox’s in-game currency, Robux. This can be used to buy accessories, clothes, and hairstyles that they can put on their virtual character, as well as other accessories to use in games. They usually cost around 75 Robux or $1.
These accessories are designed and sold by other users, which is how Bogin makes its money.
‘I wanted to see what was going on. I was really interested in these creators connecting with each other and building experiences,” he tells This Is Money. “I wanted to create my own game, but I couldn’t write a script… so I just built the visuals.”
It wasn’t until Bogin started exploring 3D modeling, building and adding detail to in-game characters, props, or vehicles for the uninitiated, that things started to take off for him.
The introduction of Roblox’s user-generated content catalog, where users can post and sell avatar accessories, changed their experience on the platform.
“I worked on my 3D modeling skills, posted concepts on Twitter, and then Roblox approached me and offered to work for the catalog. That was simply the best experience of my life.’
Roblox and the other creators working on the catalog were unaware that Bogin was only 14 years old at the time.
‘I could be taken seriously. They weren’t being discriminatory because they didn’t know how old I was at the time,” he says. “That helped me say yes, I can build this company and be mature about it and I don’t have to be super public.”
Now, Bogin’s main source of income is her personal catalog, through which she sells more than 400 virtual fashion and hairstyles. He gets a commission on each sale, which tends to cost 75 Robux, or around $1, and he has made over 40 million sales.
“It’s passive income which is really cool, so if I have a very popular item, it lasts a long time,” he says.
“I made Elton John’s Dodgers baseball cap!”
Instagram and TikTok have become the go-to platforms for brands to build awareness and use influencers to sell products.
But some brands are beginning to recognize just how engaged the Roblox community is, and how it could be used to their advantage.
Having secured the job with Roblox directly, while also building his own catalogue, Bogin began to get noticed by some of these big names.
The first was supermodel Karlie Kloss who, for the past several years, has focused on the potential of brands on Roblox.
Star Appeal: Bogin was hired by supermodel Karlie Kloss to help design virtual fashion items
She hired Bogin to help her launch Klossette, a Roblox game where players can create and design their own look and climb the ranks in fashion.
Bogin said, “She really cares about the connection between virtual fashion and real world fashion.” Finding out what the real world wants but also what the users of the platform want is difficult, as they can be different.’
Bogin was hired to strike a balance between Roblox and real world trends. “I’ve loved it, especially because I’ve been able to work with industry standards and really great people in the fashion industry,” he says.
When I got the email that I could work with Elton John, I was screaming in my car in the school parking lot.
“I want to create a real-world fashion brand, and that is one of my big goals. I test what items are really popular on the platform and find out what could sell in real life.
“That’s what I think is so great about Roblox: you can test products for much cheaper than it would cost to test a product in real life.” You have so much commitment and very little cost to be able to reach millions of users.’
The real pinch-me moment for Bogin came when he was approached to work as part of the team that brought Elton John to the platform.
“When I got the email that I could work with him, he was screaming in my car. He was in the school parking lot and they could definitely hear me outside because he was so happy.
‘I created some items for him. I created his hairstyle: I’m a redhead, so I was able to represent his hairstyle… two redheads! I also made his iconic Dodgers baseball cap, which was a lot of fun.”
‘Virtual items can generate real money’
Despite his age, Bogin comes across as a shrewd and mature businessman, well beyond his years.
While other teens were spending hours online, Bogin was quietly building his business, and the success means he’s leaving for Stanford University in the fall to study business, science and engineering.
Bogin says he’s “always been really interested in entrepreneurship,” but attributes his success to Roblox.
Popular Platform: Roblox allows its tens of millions of users to create their own games and play those created by others, as well as purchase accessories and accessories to use in the game.
‘Thanks to Roblox I have been able to build a multi-million dollar company. It’s hard for me to even comprehend how cool that is at 17.
‘It’s shocking to some people that you can be so young and be so successful, [so] A lot of people wouldn’t take me seriously.
“People would say ‘Oh, he’s so young,’ but it was fun to be able to say yes, I can build such a big company on the [Roblox] platform.
People love to be entertained with virtual items. It is as real to them as any other type of fashion.
‘I can also learn a lot of business skills at such a young age with very little trouble, because there is no cost to me. It’s a really fun experience to learn, and I love learning on this platform.
“I think that’s what’s great…at a young age, you can learn business stuff at a very high level and very few people get that opportunity.”
To some, it may be inconceivable that a teenager could earn millions from virtual items, but Bogin says they can be just as important to Roblox players as the things they buy in real life.
‘Many people criticize spending money on virtual items. But it’s so real to the people who play the platform and use it.
‘I have some of my items that I bought 10 years ago that are still in my inventory. Its quality does not go down.
“That’s what’s great about it: it’s an item that lasts forever, and you can enjoy it as much, or even more, than if you bought something else in real life.
I think what’s great about Roblox is that people love to be entertained with virtual items and they can express themselves like they would in real life. And that’s why it’s as real to them as any kind of fashion.
The growing interest in the virtual world since Mark Zuckerberg announced his metaverse vision means that Bogin is well positioned to take advantage of brands moving to platforms like Roblox.
‘They used to make fun of me for working on the platform a while back. People said it was child’s play… but it’s not.
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