Jake Miller was head prefect of his school with a $40,000 scholarship to study law waiting for him.
So when he turned it down to start a website, teachers, friends and family members were shocked.
But a tragic accident that resulted in the death of his father convinced the teenager to chase his dreams.
Jake, 18, is the son of Skydive NZ director Rod Miller, one of nine people killed in the Fox Glacier plane crash in 2010.
"My dad's death ... reminded me that life can be here one minute and gone the next. We've got to make the most of it and do what we love.
"My dad was a skydiver and his passion was jumping out of aeroplanes. I think he lived every day doing what he loved. So I thought: 'Right, life is very short, so I have to make the most of it'." Jake completed Year 13 at Christchurch Boys' High last year and was offered a scholarship for the University of Otago.
But he has concentrated on a different dream, and has set up his own business with the hope of inspiring other young Kiwis to dream big also.
His motivational website features video interviews and advice from some of the country's top business people, sports stars, media personalities and other successful Kiwis from different sectors.
He has named the site Oompher, a play on the word oomph, meaning strength.
It goes live today and will show the first round of videos; including those from bungy pioneer AJ Hackett, Air NZ head Christopher Luxon, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, comedian Rhys Darby and Christchurch earthquake student army organiser Sam Johnson.
The aim is to inspire young people to think big when choosing their career options.
Jake also hopes to reach out to school leavers and older people who may feel stuck in their jobs - motivating them to choose a different path towards success.
"Our vision is that less people die wondering what they could've achieved," Jake said.
"To do that, we're going to inspire people through wise words from people in their fields."
Twenty people have already been interviewed and Mr Miller is working on getting more, including from international guests. Jake works part-time, looking after social media for mortgage company Mike Pero but is not paid for his website. He has received sponsorship for the site.
Jake said high school students were often bombarded with information about various jobs. But there was a lack of material that would help to inspire someone to push for a respective career; for example, a successful businessman telling youngsters how he made it - and importantly, mistakes he made.
"There's so much stuff coming out in terms of options and paperwork for what people could be doing, but there's not enough inspiration.
"We're saying: 'Watch this video or learn from this person who's really achieved extraordinary things and then work out where you want to go - learning off of their experiences'."
Be inspired: Wisdom from famous Kiwis on Jake Miller's website
AJ Hackett: "Be honest and passionate as hell. You've got to do it and it's part of the Kiwi spirit. Get out there, have fun and be a Kiwi - be a little bit cheeky. It's all right."
Rhys Darby: "Be yourself, be someone else. Do it - and be yourself again."
Erin Simpson: "It's not about networking. It's about making friends."
Steve Hansen: "Young people of New Zealand are the future of this country, so the more we have making good decisions, the better."
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