OtherCrowdfund This: Lemonade Day Teaches Kids to Be the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

Chip Conrad of Lemonade Day
Chip Conrad, State Director of Lemonade Day.

Serial entrepreneur Chip Conrad wishes he could have failed earlier. If he had learned some of the potential pitfalls of starting and running a business back in middle school, perhaps he could have avoided them later on.

Unfortunately, most of our elementary, middle, and even high schools don’t even mention the word “entrepreneur” in their curriculum. Fortunately, Lemonade Day is here to supplement our students’ reading, ’riting, and ’rithmitic lessons by teaching kids how to start, own, and operate their very own business.

A national program that will take place this year on May 3, Chip organized Lemonade Day in Salem last year with resounding success. This year, Chip and his colleagues are expanding it to Portland, Euguene, and statewide and launching the first crowdfunding campaign of its kind to support these expanded effots. Chip sat down with OEN to tell us more:

The spark that inspired the birth of Lemonade Day: I organized a pitch contest in Salem called Salem Sharks, kind of a mini Shark Tank, to promote downtown businesses. In one night, we raised $300,000 worth of startup capital and launched three businesses. I thought, wow, everyone’s interested in this! So I started a nonprofit called CEED (Center for Entrepreneurial Education and Development), dedicated to helping people start businesses. I thought we’d do a lot of programming, but then we hit on Lemonade Day and decided to run with it. After all, how much more of an impact could we have with kids? Every entrepreneur I meet says they wish they had something like this when they were young.

Lemonade Day in Salem, Oregon
In Salem last year over 1,000 kids started their first business. In a four-hour period they sold $30,000 worth of lemonade.

The problem you’re addressing: There’s a hole in our public education system, and Lemonade Day fills that in. To this day, most students don’t hear or learn about entrepreneurship until college. For many, it’s not even an extracurricular option. And even in college, many students are encouraged to focus on a major that will land them a good job after college.

The impact you hope to have: I hate to think how far along I’d be in my entrepreneurial journey if I’d started in sixth grade. Every entrepreneur says the same thing. I could have made my big mistakes earlier. I hope we can help future entrepreneurs get that early boost.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur: Everything! I wasn’t engineered to have a boss or fit in a system. Being an entrepreneur is what I was meant to do. People like me aren’t risk averse, they just don’t realize risk. They’re not brave, just ignorant. I think Einstein said that.

Advice for a budding entrepreneur: You’re not defined by how good or smart you are. You’re defined by being the last man standing. My dad is a VP at a big company, and he always told me that the successful guy is the one who gets up and goes to work every day. Effort is a talent in and of itself. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who work the hardest.

Effort is a talent in and of itself. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who work the hardest.” (Tweet this)

What you wanted to be as a child when you grew up: A rockstar. Actually, I was always entrepreneurial, I just didn’t know that’s what it was. When I was 7 or 8, I tried to invent a chewing tobacco substitute out of potato chips. I knew chewing tobacco was cool but also unhealthy. Unfortunately, my potato chip substitute never made it to market.

Why Oregon is a great place to start a business: Oregon is booming. Portland was the fastest growing city the United States last year and experts say it will be true again this year. People from other tech communities are coming here to see how we’re doing things—people from Vegas, Silicon Valley, and Seattle. It’s really an exciting time to be here.

What’s on the horizon: Last year in Salem, we won the national record for participation in Lemonade Day and hope to hit the record again this year. Our goal is 6,000 participants across Oregon. Join us!

Get involved: Support Lemonade Day on Indiegogo.

Lemonade Day Salem-Keizer 2014 from Sea Legs Media on Vimeo.

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