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SCOTT JAGOW: A lot of this country’s great business minds got their start selling lemonade as kids. Ray Kroc, the McDonald’s founder, for example. This summer, the magazine, INC.com, decided to celebrate one of those budding entrepreneurs. Later this morning, they’ll announce the winner of the best lemonade stand in America. Reporter Alex Goldmark went to suburban New Jersey to see check out some of the competition.
ALEX GOLDMARK: The four Martin brothers make a good team.
OLDER BROTHER:“Uh, I’m senior VP of managing, actually operations. I overlook stuff, and encourage them in their job.”
That’s the oldest, he’s 13. The VP of marketing? He’s seven.
YOUNGER BROTHER:“Um, I had to figure out where the signs go, and um, I helped make them.”
They have matching shirts, a prime roadside location and according their newest hire, a solid business plan.
YOUNGEST BROTHER:“Whoever doesn’t like the lemonade stand, I give their money back. Whoever likes it, we keep it.”
ROD KURTZ:“The average age of the entrepreneur in America is going down. People are starting companies younger and younger.”
Rod Kurtz of Inc.com has been reviewing the entries all summer long.
KURTZ: “And its been fascinating to see how sophisticated some of these kids are. We are looking at ages five to 12 and there are some really sharp young business minds out there.”
Some kids used blind taste tests to find the best lemonade, there were cost-per-cup calculations and many donations to charity.
Kurtz sees the contest as a chance to give the kids a lesson in the basics of business.
KURTZ: “Some of the tips we provided, one was to diversify, another one we had fun with was be nice to your parents. And it sounds kind of funny, but a lot of these kids enlist their parents in the same way a lot of entrepreneurs enlist family members for funding and other things”
MARK RINKEL:“My favorite tip was probably ‘Charge a lot.'”
Eleven year old Mark Rinkel took the tips seriously. And he did take a loan from his parents, with 15% interest, but it paid off.
RINKEL:“Well, I made $236, I probably got near $100 and I had to pay off my business loan, and I had to pay my employees. They wanted 10%.”
He donated $50 to charity too. Here’s his mother Marissa.
MARISSA RINKEL:“I knew that he had learned a lot from this contest when we were playing mini golf, and he wanted to know if they were able to charge more because they were offering a great product. I said ‘you learned that from the lemonade stand contest didn’t you?'”
You gotta start somewhere if you want to end up a CEO.
MARK RINKEL: “I want to be the manager of a business. Yeah, I don’t wanna work for money, I want it to work for me.”
Sounds like a plan.
I’m Alex Goldmark, for Marketplace.
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