Middle school students got to learn the basics of starting and running their own successful small business from experts during the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation’s Middle School Entrepreneurship Academy. As part of the of the program, students got to meet community business leaders, draft their own business plans and even compete for cash prizes between $50 and $100 to keep their business running even after the Academy concluded.
The winner of the $100 grand prize was Nate Fisher, who started the week with a plan to launch a business restoring antique farm equipment. His academy mentor, Brian Delziel, helped him see that this goal was a little too ambitious for someone his age, and together they were able to scale down Fisher’s plan to restoration of antique toy tractors. Delziel, who is the Senior Vice President of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, was impressed with Fisher’s idea, which they called The Restoration Barn. Delziel believes that getting practice in restoring smaller play objects could allow Fisher to eventually expand to tackle the kind of equipment he aimed to work with in his original plan.
Even in the scaled-down version, The Restoration Barn impressed the judges enough for Fisher to win the first prize, but those overseeing the judging had complimentary things to say about all participants.
“All of the ideas that this group came up with were really great,” Dalziel said. “They have the chance to build a business, shape it and they can start it now and continue to do it in the future.”
The academy started on Monday and concluded Friday afternoon with 10 kids taking part in the project.
In addition to helping students develop their business ideas, the mentors also took them through the ins and outs of making a business a success. During the course of the program, kids learned how to price their services and products to ensure that their business has enough money to grow and succeed. They also got tips on how to market their business effectively it appealing to potential customers.
Delziel pointed out that skills like marketing are useful even outside the scope of a small business, as the kids will be increasingly required to sell themselves and their skills as they grow older and take on college admissions officers and job interviewers.
Fisher wasn’t the only entrepreneur that earned money for his project.
David Holt took third place and earned $50 for his No Poker Just Joker business, which is a board game project that he started.
In second place was Morgan White, who won $75 for her project, which uses Velcro to secure a gel pack inside a drink cozy to keep hands warmer and drinks colder.