Friends and family remember the young entrepreneur as someone with a vision for financial success, but also as a person who cared for others.
By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer
Justin Helman, an 18-year-old entrepreneur, who quickly made a profitable business out of selling popcorn carts and jukebox CD players on the Internet, was
killed Saturday in an automobile accident.
Helman graduated from Malibu High School in 2003, and was attending Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. He had been invited to attend USC next fall, where he had planned to major in business.
Helman was profiled last month in The Malibu Times as an “Internet-savvy teenager on the road to success.” He opened his online business through eBay and his Web site, www.fun-housestuff.com, shortly after graduating from Malibu High in June, reaching more than $30,000 in sales in only a few months. Recently, his business had been expanded to selling auto performance parts for Vivid Racing.
“He was an avid racing fan,” Helman’s older brother, Jordan, said. “His true passion was his car, his Subaru WRX. Cars were his life. He poured his heart and soul into his car.”
Jordan Helman said he was not surprised by his brother’s success as an Internet merchant, saying that he was following in the footsteps of their father, Barry, who is a successful businessman.
“He wanted to be his father,” said Robert Gillespie, Helman’s best friend. “He idolized his father. His dad was a prosperous businessman. And Justin wanted to do the same thing. And he achieved that.”
Helman lived his whole life in Malibu, prior to moving out to San Luis Obispo to attend college this past August. He came from a large family, as one of seven children. Although he was a hard worker with limitless visions of financial success, friends and family also described Helman as an easy-going person whose favorite word was, “chillin’.”
“He was always chillin’,” Gillespie said. “I never saw him angry actually. He never had any worries.”
Gillespie laughed when talking about his motivated, yet light-hearted friend, who planned for a stylish future.
“He wanted to make lots of money, buy lots of cars and marry a hot wife,” Gillespie said.
Helman’s knowledge of the automobile was at the highest level. He could put a car together piece by piece. Helman’s love for cars began at an early age. As a young child, he drove go-karts.
Jordan Helman joked that his brother was “never much of an academic,” although he had plenty of street smarts. Justin Helman at first was unable to get into USC, so he instead opted for community college. He had a deal with USC that if he got a 3.0 grade point average at Cuesta College, he could then attend USC as a sophomore next fall. Jordan Helman said he was proud of his brother’s determination that he was able to reach his end of the bargain.
“Finally things were starting to come together for him,” Jordan Helman said. “Really, since he graduated from high school, everything seemed to come together. He was at the apex of his life.”
Although he had his goals set high for financial and social success, Helman’s sister, Jilly, said her brother was also somebody who cared about others. She said he was a person “who wanted to give everybody everything.”
“He never wanted to hurt anybody. He loved to party. He loved his Coronas. He lived his life to the fullest. He did what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. He lived big everyday.”
Helman is survived by his parents, Barry and Victoria; his brothers and sisters, Jordan, Jilly, Andy and his wife Lorie, Stacy her husband, Brad and his wife Janine, Marc and his wife Su Kyung; his grandmother Peg; his uncles David and his wife Gilda, and Rick and his wife Laurie. He also had nine nieces and nephews, Hunter, Gunnar, Shai, Tess, Jason, Max, Ivy, Noah, and Izzie.
Funeral services will take place on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. at Hillside Memorial on 6001 Centinela Ave. in Los Angeles.