Increasingly, when we think of startups and the entrepreneurs behind them, we tend to think of tech-savvy people in their twenties sitting behind a screen working with datasets and codes. In Cincinnati, the Adopt A Class Foundation
is proving that entrepreneurs can come in many forms—and ages.
Adopt A Class, a mentoring program that connects pre-K through 8th grade students with local businesses, teamed with local marketing company Sales Genesis
to work with the 4th grade class at St. Peter Claver Latin School for Boys
. By the end of the school year, the boys had their own small business, the Refreshing Lemon lemonade stand, complete with a business plan, business model, logo and marketing materials.
“We first met the boys in December 2013,” says Sales Genesis founder and CEO David Mentzel. “It was very interesting: We talked about what they were passionate about, and they all were very into the NBA, but instead of wanting to be basketball players, they dreamed of owning a team.”
After getting to know the students and their interests a little better, Mentzel and his team decided that the best thing to do would be to introduce them to the entrepreneurial process and just what it takes to own a business.
“We narrowed it down to a lemonade stand so that it was more feasible to start with,” he says. “Then we talked to them about company structure, showed them what a business plan looks like, and they voted each other into different roles and really adapted to them.”
The group went about setting a budget, determining costs and designing marketing materials. The project culminated when the Refreshing Lemon stand was put up for one afternoon in May on the corner of Main and Thirteenth Streets in Over-the-Rhine
. In just an hour and a half, the stand earned more than $100. The earnings were then split up among the boys, who decided to donate a sizable percentage to their neighbors at the Mary Magdalen House
on Main Street.
“We also talked to them about the importance of putting some away for yourself and saving for the future,” says Katie Burroughs, executive director of Adopt A Class. “We want them to feel that they have the skill set and knowledge to run their own business one day.”
Adopt A Class works with several schools and businesses around the city, but will continue the partnership between St. Peter Claver and Sales Genesis next year.