BrooklynFans Of Books: “Kid Start-Up” By Mark Cuban

Kid Start-Up: How You Can Become an Entrepreneur

By Mark Cuban, Shaan Patel, and Ian McCue

Diversion Books; paperback, $15.00

Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and star of the hit TV show Shark Tank, has teamed up with two young and successful entrepreneurs Shaan Patel and Ian McCue to write Kid Start-Up: How You Can Become an Entrepreneur.

Cuban’s entrepreneurial streak became apparent at an early age when he sold garbage bags to his neighbors. This planted the seed for what would eventually become long-term success. Cuban is now an American billionaire businessman, investor, film producer, author, television personality, philanthropist, and serial entrepreneur. In addition to the Mavericks, he also owns Landmark Theaters and Magnolia Pictures, and is the chairman of AXS TV. He is the author of the bestseller How To Win At The Sport of Business.

Patel has always been an entrepreneur at heart, starting when he sold Pokemon cards in elementary school. In middle school, he sold  music CDs, then made thousands off internet referrals while in high school, and made tens of thousands when he sold used iPhones on eBay. He achieved a perfect score on the SAT, and then started his real business, Prep Expert, a test prep company offering SAT & ACT prep classes in twenty cities and online. He appeared on Shark Tank to pitch Prep Expert and made an investment deal with Cuban.

McCue is just 16 years old and he is the founder and director of Spark Skill, an educational startup offering coding, design, and maker summer camps for tweens and teens. He is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in STEM and educational ventures, along with a passion for promoting youth engagement in coding, engineering, and business development.

Kid Start-Up is a guide for middle school students who are interested in starting their own business, and offers detailed ideas, educational information and advice to the next generation of “young” sharks on how to launch a successful startup.

In a section titled “What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?” they write, “Have you ever been asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Most kids reply with the following:

“But have you ever heard someone say, ‘I want to be an entrepreneur’? Probably not. That’s because most people don’t know what an entrepreneur is.

“The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as ‘a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.’ Notice the key phrases in that definition: starts a business and to make money.

“That’s because this book is really about entrepreneurship. Any kid that starts a business to make money is an entrepreneur.

“So the next time you get asked what you want to be when you grow up, you can respond, ‘I want to be an entrepreneur!’

“‘Entrepreneur’ comes from the French word ‘entreprendre,’ which means ‘to undertake.’ And that’s exactly what it means to be an entrepreneur. In order to be an entrepreneur, you just have ‘to undertake’ a business. This is not the same thing as having an idea. Billions of people have ideas. But only a few people are willing to pursue those ideas and turn them into a real business.

“Another word for anyone that starts a business is ‘founder.’ If you start a business called ‘Sweeties Lemonade Stand,’ then you are the founder of the Sweeties Lemonade Stand. So when you start a business, you can call yourself both an entrepreneur and a founder.”

Ranging from the timeless ideas like starting a lemonade stand to more modern day, crafty businesses like an Etsy Art Store or Eco-Friendly Shampoo, Kid Start-Up will appeal strongly to kids 9-13.

In a section titled “Improve Life One Cup Of Lemonade At A Time,” Cuban, Patel, and McCue write, “Let’s start identifying some business ideas! Every successful business is built on a simple idea that makes life better. This improvement can be tiny, yet still change the world!

“What could you do to make life a little bit better? Our business ideas in this book include washing cars, selling home goods, and making unique shoelaces. So, how do you improve life?

  • Washing cars: keeps cars looking fresh
  • Selling home goods: reduces time spent shopping and saves customers’ money
  • Selling unique shoelaces: adds a pop of fun to any pair of shoes.

“Even simple ideas can make life better. So, how do you come up with your own ideas, and how can you choose one? Let’s dive in.”

What follows this section, as well as the other parts in the book, are exercises readers can perform.

There also is a section called Successful Kid Entrepreneur Interviews, in which the authors talk to middle school kids who have put their ideas into reality and found success.

One successful young entrepreneur they interview is Benjamin Stern, who started Nohbo when he was 14 years old. He is the creator of the first eco-friendly shampoo ball.

Cuban, Patel, and McCue write, “Ben was inspired to make a difference when, at 14 years old, he viewed a video about the destructive impact of the plastic industry on our marine life. Ben envisioned a tab-like, single-use product that was water soluble for personal care products, such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and shaving cream. In early 2016, Ben appeared on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ to pitch his business, Nohbo, and ended up accepting a business offer from billionaire Mark Cuban.

1. Did you have any business or work experience before you started your business?

Nohbo wasn’t my first company. I started a coffee subscription company, selling bags of coffee I bought at wholesale prices to neighbors, using the same model as typical school sales programs do. It was a nice business, but there was a limit to how big the business could get. That’s when I realized I needed to create an invention.

2. What inspired you to start your company?

Escaping a job inspired me to create my own company. I saw my parents dislike their day jobs, and personally, I did not like working for others. I always had ideas, and ever since a young age, I’ve heard mentors, friends, teachers, etc. say that America was a place where opportunity exists for everyone. The word ‘everyone’ does not have an age attached so I saw my opportunity, had this amazing chance to grow it, and boom; my company was created.

3. What were the first steps that you took in starting your business?

The first step was to make sure others found my shampoo ball appealing. I did this by submitting the concept to companies like The Clorox Company and Hyatt Hotels. Following their positive reaction, I jumped on the idea and decided to turn this concept from nothing into a rolling stone. The next steps were finding legal counsel, saving up money, finding chemists, and just working out all the additional kinks in forming a startup.

Kid Start-Up is sure to inspire young minds that anything is possible, and all it takes is a little creativity and initiative to become a success at any age.

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