Posted May 03, 2019
When life gives you lemons they say to make lemonade, but how do you turn a lemonade stand into a thriving business? For some kids, the answer is to have the passion to carry out your idea and never give up. We know all too well how much work and dedication it takes to make a company grow. Last month, CertifiKID was featured on Shark Tank and made a deal with "Mr. Wonderful," Kevin O'Leary, in what some are calling the toughest negotiation in Shark Tank History!
Now that we've had our time with the Sharks, we are celebrating National Lemonade Day on May 5th by spotlighting some young entrepreneurs who we think are totally ready for the Tank!
National Lemonade Day was created to teach entrepreneurship skills to kids one "lemonade stand idea" at a time. This kidpreneur holiday began in Houston, Texas in 2007 and has grown to encompass events across three countries! Kids are encouraged to follow their business dream and pitch their idea all while learning business planning, problem solving, setting financial goals, and growing self-esteem.
Here are some of the companies and kids we are inspired by and think could make a deal serving their lemonade in the Tank!
Jonah Larson: "Seek the advice of others who have business experience. You can learn from their mistakes and successes."
1. Jonah Larson 11, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Jonah, a "crocheting prodigy," taught himself how to crochet when he was just 5 years old by watching YouTube videos. Now, he runs his own crochet business called Jonah's Hands, based out of his home in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Jonah has gained social media attention from his crocheting craft and has more than 46,000 followers on Instagram. He regularly donates some of his proceeds to the Ethiopian orphanage where he was adopted as an infant. Jonah has temporarily stopped taking new requests since he now has over 2,500 orders! His next goals are to attend a crochet summer camp, attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and then become a surgeon.
Parker Krex: "Dream big and never give up on an idea. If you work hard enough on it you will make it work."
2. Parker Krex, 14 Deerfield, Illinois
Parker created a LEGO subscription company called Brick Loot when he was 9 years old. A huge LEGO lover, Parker started reviewing LEGO and bricks toy sets on YouTube at just 4 years old! One day, after receiving a gamer subscription box that included a pair of socks and an air freshener, Parker was inspired to make something better. Parker and his mother created Brick Loot's business plan in their garage over a weekend and then Parker put together a "Shark Tank"-inspired speech for his father, Steve, an investor. His pitch worked, and with both parents on board, he was ready to make his dream a reality. In 2014, Brick Loots won the Silver Award for "Best Kids Subscription Box" by Junior Design Awards. Now 14, Parker has taken over more responsibility for the company and enjoys finding new designs for custom kits and testing all the items. Brick Loots recently expanded to a larger warehouse and now owns an 8,000-square-foot retail store that includes a museum dedicated to LEGO Minifigures. Parker has continued to grow as the CEO of his business and is currently learning Mandarin so that he can speak to the producers in China and better manage his business. Today, Brick Loot has thousands of subscribers and is one of the best selling subscription box companies.
Cory Nieves: "People will judge, laugh and hate you but use it as your battery to keep pushing forward."
Photo by Peter Ross
3. Cory Nieves 14, Englewood, New Jersey
Cory, also known as "Mr. Cory," created his own business at just 6 years old called Mr. Cory's Cookies. Cory started his business as a way to help his mother, Lisa, buy a car so she wouldn't have to take the bus. He started selling hot cocoa to raise money for a car in his hometown. Soon the hot cocoa business grew into selling lemonade and cookies. After months of planning and taste-testing recipes, Mr. Cory and Lisa realized they had found the perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies and Mr. Cory's Cookies was born. In 2014, at age 9, Cory was invited to appear on "The Ellen DeGeneres" show. Ellen was so impressed with his talent and mission that she gifted him with $10,000 and a Ford Escape for his mother. In 2017, Mr. Cory appeared on "The Profit," a show run by successful entrepreneur and investor, Marcus Lemonis. Cory made a deal with Mr. Lemonis for $100,000 for 40% of his company. Mr. Cory has been able to work with well-known brands and companies like Aetna, Barney's, Bloomingdales, Citibank, J. Crew, Macy's, Mercedes-Benz, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, TOMS, Viacom, Whole Foods, and Williams-Sonoma. Cory also began working with and donating to nonprofits, such as Bergen's Promise in Rochelle Park, New Jersey and the Children's Aid Society in New York City. A few years ago, he founded Mr. Corey Cares, a foundation to support charities, and in 2018 he received the Diana Award for his philanthropic work.
Sebastian: "You are never too old or too young to start a business. You can be 7 or 70 you just have to have a passion and follow your dreams."
Brandon: "Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things many people do. There are a lot of ups and downs on this journey. It won’t happen overnight but never give up on your dreams and don’t let people stand in the way of your dreams. If it was easy everyone would be an entrepreneur."
4. Brandon and Sebastian Martinez 11 and 13, Miami, Florida
Founders and brothers, Brandon and Sebastian, created a unique sock company called Are You Kidding to share their love of being unique and standing out to the world, one sock at a time. Brandon, the older of the two brothers, is the Director of Sales, or "D.O.S" as he calls himself, while younger brother Sebastian is the C.E.O and designer. Are You Kidding has allowed them to create fun sock designs for kids and adults while also raising funds and awareness for local and national charities. The dynamic duo has partnered with charities like Autism Speaks, American Cancer Society, Special Olympics Florida, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, The Live Like Bella Foundation and more. For every pair of socks sold they donate 30% of the sale back to charity. Over the past four years, the brothers have sold over 100K pairs of socks and have donated over $150,000 to charity! In 2015, they appeared on "Good Morning America" and had the opportunity to pitch their business to Shark investor, Daymond John. Most recently, they collaborated with a talented young boy with diabetes to design socks for their latest campaign which supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Alina Morse: "Ask Questions....and ask more questions. Believe in yourself. Build a team that shares your passion! Work hard, try, believe, and never give up!”
5. Alina Morse 13, Wolverine Lake, Michigan
At 7 years old, Alina Morse came up with the sweet idea to create candy that is good for your teeth. After going to the bank with her dad one day, Alina was offered a lollipop but remembered that candy is bad for your teeth. As a result, Alina and her dad came up with the company Zollipops, a delicious lollipop treat that doesn't harm your teeth and actually helps clean them! The first Zollipops treats hit the market in 2014 and were branded as vegan, natural, smart and yummy candies. Ever since, Alina has been known as the "Lollipop Girl" for her innovative thinking. While in the fifth grade, Alina launched her second teeth-friendly treat, Zolli Drops sugar-free peppermints, and in 2017 she launched her latest addition, Zaffi Taffy. Since her product launch at the beginning of 2019 with Target, Alina's products are now available in 10,000 stores and 1,100 Target locations as well as Target.com. Alina donates 10% of her profits to her A Million Smiles charity whose mission is to reduce America's tooth decay epidemic by funding oral health. She recently announced that she plans to double her donations, making it Two Million Smiles. Alina's Zollipops are currently the best-selling sugar-free lollipops.
6. Mozaih "Mo" Bridges 17, Memphis, Tennessee
A fellow "Shark Tank" alum, Mo has proven himself both in and out of the Tank. Mo created his company, Mo's Bows, at age 9 after becoming frustrated when he wasn't able to find a bow that fit his personality or style. With the help of his granny, he began making his own bow ties at his granny's kitchen table in Memphis, Tennessee. His products began to be featured in magazines shortly after hitting the market. In 2013, Mo appeared on "The Steve Harvey Show" and pitched his company on "Shark Tank." Shark Daymond John was impressed with Mo's business but instead of offering him a deal, Daymond offered to mentor him for free. Under Daymond's mentorship, Mo's Bows has made it into Neiman Marcus stores and the business has continued to grow. In 2017, Mo signed a seven-figure, one-year licensing contract with the National Basketball Association to produce bow ties for all 30 professional basketball teams. Mo dreams of becoming a fashion mogul and plans to study fashion design in college.
Mikaila Ulmer: "Find a business you are passionate about. The more passionate you are about your business the harder you will work at it. And, it will not seem like work!"
7. Mikaila Ulmer 14, Austin, Texas
What better way to highlight National Lemonade Day than with a kidpreneur who began with a lemonade stand? This young CEO and "Shark Tank" alum, Mikaila, delighted the Sharks with her unique sweetened with honey lemonade. At the tender age of 4, Mikaila's family encouraged her to participate in Austin's Lemonade Day. Some time before the competition, Mikaila had been stung by a bee and began reading about the bees' failing ecosystem. Mikaila really wanted to create a product that would help raise awareness for the endangered of bees. Remembering her Great Granny Helen's flaxseed lemonade recipe, she decided to create a healthy lemonade recipe sweetened with local honey and Me & the Bees Lemonade was born. Before long, Mikaila was selling out of her unique lemonade. Mikaila donates 10% of her company's net profit to local and international organizations that fight to save the honeybee populations. Her motto is: Buy a Bottle…Save a Bee. In 2014, at age 9, she appeared on "Shark Tank" and received a deal from Daymond John. Ten years later, her business is thriving and her lemonade is buzzing off the shelves in 30-plus states from New York to California, resulting in 360,000 bottles of lemonade sold annually at 1,000 retailers. Click HERE to find Me & the Bees Lemonade near you.
Joseph Cofer: "Starting a business is hard work; it’s always important to keep in mind that the effort you put forth is what you’ll get out. Success might not come as quickly as you had hoped and I've found that it’s crucial to take a moment, look back, and reflect on all the accomplishments you’ve achieved, so that you can appreciate how far you’ve come. Celebrate the little triumphs because they amount to your continued success."
8. Joseph Cofer 16, Florida
Joseph originally started his company, Schmancy Pops, all-natural popsicles made with fresh seasonal fruits, when he was 11 years old as a way to earn money to buy a car. However, Joseph's mission soon evolved into raising money to support cancer patients going through treatment, as well as schools and nonprofits. In 2015, Joseph pitched his company to a "Shark Tank"-like competition called "The Real" to "Shark Tank" alum Mo Bridges who was the guest judge. Joseph's business tied for first place, winning $2,500 from the show's sponsor, Shopify. Schmancy Pop's mission is to make everyone’s life a little sweeter - one popsicle at a time. Joseph continues his business today in Florida from his "Pop Cart" and can be found around Ormond Beach and other beaches in Florida.
Ryan Hickman: “If a kid like me can do it, you can do it too. It’s very easy, just follow your passions and you will succeed.”
9. Ryan Hickman 9, Orange County, California
In 2012 at the age of 3, Ryan visited the local recycling center with his dad and immediately became fascinated with the art of recycling. Ryan's business, Ryan's Recycling Company, began when he came up with the idea of giving his neighbors plastic bags so that they could save their recyclables for him. Soon everyone was saving their cans and bottles for Ryan, and today he has customers all over Orange County, California. Ryan sorts through cans and bottles from his customers every week to prepare them for recycling. Ryan has appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show", Ryan Seacrest's syndicated radio program, and his story has gone viral across the Web, TV, and radio. He was awarded "2017 Citizen of the Year” for his recycling efforts by his hometown San Juan Capistrano and was recognized by the Orange County Register as one of the "100 Most Influential People of 2017." Ryan continues his recycling business today and hopes to raise awareness to save the planet through recycling. Ryan's parents are encouraging him to save up for a college education, but Ryan is hoping to save up for a full-size trash truck! All of the proceeds from his company logo t-shirts go towards helping the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which he has donated over $8,400 to already. Click HERE to purchase a shirt.
Lily Born: "I think the biggest thing I'd say is don't be afraid to ask for help. Doing a business is not like school, you can't do it all yourself, you'll need a lot of help to be successful."
10. Lily Born 16, Chicago, Illinois
While some kidpreneurs focus on creating the perfect lemonade, Lily prioritized designing the perfect cup. At 8 years old, Lily noticed her grandfather was often spilling his drinks because of his Parkinson's disease, so she began crafting a model of her cup idea using moldable plastic with her main focus on making sure the cup didn't tip and was comfortable to hold. After learning that kangaroos use their tails as a third leg for balance, she came up with the idea to add legs to the cup to create stability. A year later, she recreated the same design using ceramic as a cup for her father so that he could avoid coffee spills. Several different models and prototypes later, the final version of the Kangaroo Cup was born and so was Lily's company, Imagiroo. Now 16, Lily has sold tens of thousands of cups all over the world. To name a few of her accolades, Lily was listed as Business Insider's "Top 11-year-old in Tech," Mochi’s “25 Game Changers Under 25" exhibited her invention at the White House Science Fair, she was honored as a CNN Heroes “Young Wonder", and recognized by "A Mighty Girl" and Amy Poehler's "Smart Girls" as someone who inspires other girls to follow their passions and dreams. Lily donates some of her profits to fund STEM education for young girls and also donates her cups to nonprofits all over the world. Lily finds joy in sharing her story and teaching others that your invention doesn't have to be ground-breaking, it can be as simple as a re-imagined cup. Her next goal is to be able to raise enough money to donate to Parkinson's research.
For a behind-the-scenes look at our "Shark Tank" premiere check out Swimming With the Sharks: My Experience Pitching CertifiKID on Shark Tank.
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