10 year olds pitch business ideas to Shark Tank Shark

If you are entrepreneurial, you will rule the world. This is what the children attending Lemonade Stand have been experiencing.  

Lemonade Stand - the business school for kids, is a two-day program which was started by two startup and business advocates from Melbourne. I volunteered at the Lemonade Stand during the June-July 2016 school holidays.

The two day program covers a lot of concepts that even adult business owners struggle to understand such as creating businesses based on solving problems, identifying where to find potential customers and potential partners. You might assume the kids would struggle with pitching to investors, digital marketing or developing business models. But they got right into it and by the end of the Pitch Afternoon on the second day, they were teaching adults a thing or two about the business world.

The children experienced future skills that are needed such as:

  • Entrepreneurial thinking not “job thinking”

  • Collaborative problem solving

  • Identifying marketable products

  • Developing their business models

  • Pitching their ideas to investor, Steve Baxter, a Shark Tank Shark

How did the children identify marketable products and develop their business models? Working in teams of three, they went through a step-by-step approach to discuss a problem they wanted to solve. This highlighted a crucial difference between entrepreneurial thinking and “job thinking”. Instead of asking your child what they want to be when they grow up, ask them, “What problems do you want to solve?

Once you have an idea of the problems you want to solve, the kids worked on a simplified version of Business Canvas Model to commercialise the solution to the problem they wanted to solve. The kids followed this step-by-step approach:

  1. What is the problem?

  2. What are various possible solutions or which solution / product will we develop?

  3. Where will you find your customers?

  4. Who are your partners?

  5. What are your costs?

  6. What is your revenue model?

  7. Do you need investment?

In conducting online research and answering these step by step questions, the students developed their marketable product, as a concept, and business model on Day 1. Day 2 was spent on finishing up their website landing page, powerpoint presentation, and practicing for the Pitch Afternoon.

What did the children experience?

  • Children are open to ideas, they are not pre-conditioned like adults. It was a lot easier for them to learn the business model canvas approach than what I’ve seen with some adults I know with MBAs.

  • They started to recognise that there are multiple paths in life, not just the traditional, linear career path of: school, university, job, career then life fulfillment.

  • The question is not: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, but rather “What problem do you want to solve?” / “What problem excites you?”

  • Who knows? These children may not need a degree or an MBA. They may not need a “job”. They may become problem solvers with an entrepreneurial mindset who create value in an ever changing digital environment.

A few anecdotes

A founder was asked where will you find your customers? The founder replied, "In wealthy suburbs."

"I just want to build businesses and sell them. That's all I want to do."

"I'm going to sell 1% of my business to Steve Baxter for $5 million."

"I want to protect wildlife."

"I want to build a fashion business.”

"We don't need investment, we'll use our allowance."

The Afternoon Pitch

The parents were invited back to watch the Pitch Afternoon on Day 2. Shark Tank Shark, Steve Baxter was present and the business teams were pitching to him and the audience. Here are the business ideas that were developed in the two day program:

Idea #1 - virtual reality theme parks

Idea #2 - city protection against graffiti

Idea #3 - cheap digital education for emerging countries.

Idea #4 - car-pooling app. "We don't need investment, we'll use our allowance."

Idea #5 - 3D print tusk products to reduce value of ivory and protect rhinos

Idea #6 - gamifying environmental clean up

Idea #7 - crowd-sourced fashion design reviews

This is only the beginning. These ideas came from 21 children, aged 8 to 12 years. If they keep going and honing their skills and pitching ability, imagine what they will be like at the age of 18. Later on, they could be sitting on the other side of the table and be the next Shark in the Shark Tank.

They just pitched their business ideas to Steve Baxter.  What are you achieving today?