In a well-lit room on the campus of a local college Wednesday, students flocked to a lecture hall to gather wisdom and hear stories from a trio of warriors fresh from the front lines of the real business world.

Meet the warriors: 14-year-old Dayton, 11-year-old Lacey and 9-year-old Lindsey. Together with a fourth partner who couldn’t make it to their Bethany Lutheran College entrepreneurs presentation, they comprise the “Fantastic Four” part of the upstart business Fantastic Four Fire Starters.

Their business: Using sawdust and wax, they make a product perfect for campers who want a foolproof way of starting fires. Pack of 12 will run you $8.

They came to campus as part of Bethany Lutheran College’s “Let’s Get Down to Business” lecture series, which brings in a speaker each semester to talk about business in the real world. The series, coordinated by business professor Janet Moldstad, has in the past brought in consultant Louise Dickmeyer and Taylor Corp. executives.

But this one was different.

Moments before the trio began their presentation, Moldstad wondered about how the trio would fit in with what you normally get from the “Let’s Get Down to Business” brand. She wasn’t worried for a second, however, how the kids would handle it. She had full confidence in them.

“This is kind of a risk,” she said. “I don’t think we ordinarily think of young children as entrepreneurs. Our stereotype is the aggressive businessman with wild ideas.”

While it may not have been the typical fare, what Moldstad and the 60 or so attendees got was certainly entertaining.

The Snyders were unrehearsed and honest. They were raw and came without an ounce of the kind of smoothness you’d expect — and might be wary of — from a seasoned business professional.

Dayton did most of the talking. But it’s clear by their presentation that the work is shared equally. They told the crowd how they take the wax waste donated to them by the Soy Classic Candle Co. and mix it with the sawdust from their father’s woodworking business.

They mix it until it gains the consistency of thick oatmeal, and then pour it into a paper cup. A dozen come in a pack.

Marketing so far has been come in a variety of ways. Dayton rode his go-cart in a parade this summer and handed out free samples. They’ve also handed out free samples around town (they live in Glenville, near the Iowa border. They’re mother attends Bethany).

So far they sold about 700 packages. The money is split evenly among the four, and they’re not taking their earnings down to the candy store. It all goes to a college fund.

“It’s amazing they started this up at such a young age,” Bethany freshman Andrew Wendorf of New Ulm said moments after the presentation. “If you put your mind to it, they or anybody can accomplish anything.”

The Snyders are definitely accomplishing it. They’re also learning a little bit about running a business, marketing, and what it’s like to talk about their success to a more experienced crowd.

“It’s really cool that you get to teach the older kids something they’re not so sure about,” Lacey Snyder said.

Moldstad serves in a position funded by an endowment made possible by a gift from Glen Taylor. Part of her duties as the Glen Taylor chairwoman for Business and Leadership involve putting together all “Let’s Get Down to Business” lectures. The goal is to teach students something about initiative.

“We want to inspire them to go out on their own,” she said, “and give them access to people out in the business world.”

React to this story:

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0