Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan & Emmet Counties.

How many uses for a paperclip can you name?

By Hannah Sanderson, Business Attraction & Growth

A study followed 1,500 kids from kindergarten through elementary, middle and high school. At each level of schooling the kids were asked, “How many ways can you think to use a paperclip?” in order to test their divergent thinking or their ability to see different ways to answer a question. As kindergarteners, 98% scored at the “Genius Level” of divergent thinking—coming up with the highest number of ways to use a paperclip. As it turns out, kids are the most divergent thinkers and because of that, have some of the best ideas for starting a new business.

The most unique and creative ideas for new businesses come from divergent thinking that often tapers off in adulthood. In 2016, Forbes named 18 successful entrepreneurs under 18 years of age or younger. George Matus (18) is the founder of Teal which is a company that sells commercial drones that reach up to 70 miles per hour, and he raised $2.8 million in seed dollars. Another notable entrepreneur is Shubham Banerjee (14) who is the founder of Braigo Labs which offers low-cost Braille printers to help the visually impaired. His latest version utilizes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to print text from a website and turn it into braille. With children being incredibly creative and divergent thinkers, it only makes sense to encourage their entrepreneurial spirit and ideas. There are many ways to encourage youth entrepreneurship, such as helping kids explore their entrepreneurial side through the classic Lemonade Stand.

One community here in Northern Michigan has taken a program traditionally for adults and added a student aspect. GreenLight East Jordan is a business model competition where new businesses give a four-minute business pitch to a panel of judges to compete for seed money for their start-up. GreenLight recently added students to the business model competition giving them a shot at the $1,000 prize. By adding students to the competition, East Jordan is breeding entrepreneurship at an early age.

Interested in learning more about GreenLight East Jordan or do you know a Student Entrepreneur that would be a good applicant? Contact Hannah Sanderson with the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance for more information at (231) 582-6482.

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