Entrepreneurship flows within the veins of our city. And while we typically hear about businesses founded by adult Austinites, that doesn’t mean kids can’t participate in the fun. Start-Up Kids Club is a local nonprofit that provides children with the opportunity to found their own start-up business, while learning critical thinking and other skills that propel them through school and life.
What Is Start-Up Kids Club?
Start-Up Kids Club is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides entrepreneurship experience to youth, in an effort to broaden their perspectives and enhance life skills. The programming follows the school year, meaning the organization offers a class each semester: one from September to December, and another from February to May.
Each week during the semester features its own topic, such as branding or finance. Start-Up brings in local entrepreneurs and speakers who are proficient in different subjects, to hold discussions with the children.
Go to Market
After the learning phase, students go out into the community to sell the product they created to the public. After this market, the children follow up with the program to talk about what worked and what didn’t. If there are doubts about sticking with the business they chose, the participants are encouraged to improve their original ideas instead of starting from scratch.
Eventually, the class has a second market day, when the young entrepreneurs show off their products, with improvements they’ve made.
Last year, the students were interested in the idea of investing, but didn’t quite understand what that meant. So Start-Up ran its own investment program. The young entrepreneurs were encouraged to contribute five dollars each, before the class decided as a whole where it wanted to invest the money. The group chose Apple stock.
Fun fact: Start-Up Kids Club prides itself in reaching kids no matter what–meaning financial barriers are nonexistent. Most of the programming is free, but donations are always welcome.
From Coffee Stand to Youth Empowerment
Wakem gave her daughter a few topics to research in preparation for the big day, and then Harper jumped into action. She even snagged her best friend as an employee! After a few short hours, Harper’s coffee stand had profited over 100 dollars–about two dollars over the state minimum wage when divided between the two girls.
Making a Difference
Harper is dyslexic and has struggled in school. But in developing her own business, she was able to learn critical thinking skills and confidence that boosted her academic performance. Wakem wanted to provide this experience to other children and ended up founding Start-Up Kids Club in 2017.
Within a year, the organization grew from one location to 12. It has partnered with several school districts to provide classes at Magellan International School, Hill Elementary, and Rawson Saunders. Wakem also found space through City of Austin Parks and Recreation offices and local coworking spaces.
Wakem is a huge believer in tapping the genius of children. She loves working with them and turning their ideas into businesses. She says her program builds meaningful connections through hands-on experience.
Inspiring Kid Bosses
Fifteen of the children from last year’s program have products featured in local stores. Some have made an even larger commitment to bring their products to Big Top Candy Shop every week.
Start-Up Kids Club will be inspiring more kid bosses outside of the program with the first national pitch program for kids. Called “Pitch YEA!,” this competition seeks kid-run businesses that are feasible, innovative, scalable, and meet a need. There are three age categories: eight and under, nine to 13, and 14 to 18. Finalists have the chance to win prizes, including cash.
If you’re interested in getting your own kid boss involved with Start-Up Kids Club, then check out the official website.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What business would your kid boss want to start?