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April 6

Business course an unusual kids' holiday activity

Source: The Age

A city innovation consultancy is running a basic but serious business class for children, in an unusual school holiday activity.

While other kids are swimming, riding bikes or playing computer games, budding entrepreneurs aged nine to 12 are taking notes in a Queen Street classroom about internet start-ups, business models, budgets and marketing.

Twins Lachlan (left) and Oliver Skerritt, 11, at the two day business school for kids, Lemonade Stand, run by Collective ...
Twins Lachlan (left) and Oliver Skerritt, 11, at the business school for kids, Lemonade Stand, run by Collective Campus in Queen Street.  Photo: Vince Caligiuritwo day

Steve Glaveski, co-founder of Collective Campus, which advises large organisations such as Sportsbet and MetLife Insurance on innovation, practised his own innovation by starting the two day kids' course in January.

It was such a hit that he is repeating it this week. And in the next school holidays, in June and July, he plans to run them in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. He has had enquiries from Boston, New York and Silicon Valley.

The course, which costs $400, or less with early bird discounts, is named Lemonade Stand after the American tradition of kids selling homemade lemonade for pocket money.

On the first day on Tuesday, students learned business fundamentals such as identifying customer needs, how to develop and market products; and how to deal with competition.

Day two, on Wednesday, is called Lean Startup for Kids, in which children are encouraged to find their own ideas, build a business model and work out how to make a profit.

They then test customer interest by building a prototype, whether it's a website, mobile app or cardboard mock-up, and get customer feedback.

The children then pitch the idea to parents, using slides to explain the business, its customer base and how much investment is needed.

Mr Glaveski, 32, said as a child he spent school holidays "down at the basketball courts and riding my bike" but it was a different era. "In 2001 it cost $5 million to start an online business. Now you can start something for a couple of hundred bucks."

Kids today could easily sell crafts, run a dog walking business, or invent and market a product, for fun or profit.

With automation and 'offshoring' of jobs, traditional occupations were less reliable and kids needed to be self starters who thought differently.

He teaches that kids should take small risks by testing prototypes on the market, and learning from mistakes.

Sharon Cameron, of South Melbourne, said she found Lemonade Stand online when looking for a school holiday activity for her twins Oliver and Lachlan Skerritt, 11. It was "definitely different" but suits their curiosity and love of technology, she said.

They have already thought up an App called Bully Busters, and are excited about creating a prototype on Wednesday.

Emma Mitchell, 12, at the two day Lemonade Stand business course for kids run by Collective Campus in Queen Street.

Emma Mitchell, 12, at the two day Lemonade Stand business course for kids run by Collective Campus in Queen Street. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Lesley Mitchell, of Warrandyte, said her daughter Emma, 12, already makes newborn-baby dolls, and sells them online for $150 to $7000.

Emma was "incredibly driven" and the course could help "take her business to the next level", she said.


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