When I was a kid I had a couple of businesses. When I was 5, I went door-to-door selling pages of newspaper I’d painted with watercolors for a penny. I built my way up to an American classic: the lemonade stand. But I can’t say I learned much about running a business. I mostly learned how to mix lemonade powder with water. There were no Venture Kits when I was a kid.
What are Venture Kits? A Seattle mom is determined to show every kid they can be an entrepreneur or a CEO. After more than a decade working in tech, Leslie Feinzaig created Venture Kits.
“Venture Kits are little businesses in a box designed for kids,” Feinzaig explains. “The first thing that you read says, ‘Congratulations, you are now the founder and CEO of your own business!’ If we can get all kids to visualize themselves as CEOs and entrepreneurs, just as they would visualize themselves as a princess or a sports star.”
It’s an educational tool, but also a game. The company the kids will start is a baking business called “Treats To Go.” Recipes are included and don’t require an oven.
“It literally goes through, step by step, everything you need to do to start that business,” Feinzaig said. “You come up with a menu, you figure out the cost of your recipes, you do a little bit of market research to figure out what price to put on your baked goods. Then you have to go out and find customers. Then you have to go find investors.”
“I teach them that mom and dad are investors and that we’re supposed to pay them back,” she said. “Mom and dad actually get back the money they put into the baked goods. Towards the end of the kits, you have to go out and deliver the treats. The very last step is figuring out what to do with that money. OK, so now you have some profit. You’re going to save some of it, you’re going to spend some of it, and maybe you’re going to invest in yourself and the next iteration of that business.”
Feinzaig says the skills Venture Kits teach are useful for life, not just for future CEOs.
“Most parents teach how to save money and they teach you how to budget money,” Feinzaig said. “Those are both wonderful lessons. But what about how to make money? Who teaches you that? This is a little box you can give to your kid to learn all of those hard lessons while, by the way, having a lot of fun.”
I played devil’s advocate with Feinzaig and asked her why we should have kids thinking about business at such a young age. Shouldn’t kids just get to be kids?
“I don’t necessarily think they need to start businesses, I just want them to start something,” she said. “I think that when we’re kids we model a lot of behavior that we’re going to do when we’re adults. I think of this more as, why should kids be learning how to build robots when they’re little? Why should kids be playing with doctor’s kits when they’re little? Why should kids go to dance class?”
“I think when we’re kids we just try on a whole bunch of different hats,” Feinzaig. “I just want a lot of kids to try on this hat because I think 20 years from now when my baby’s out of college, I want her to live in a world where a lot more people that look like her are CEOs. The only way we’re going to do that is by starting them young.”
Venture Kits were released this week and you can click here to buy one. Leslie is working on future kits, one where kids put on an art auction and another where they produce a talent show.