Future Top 49ers at Lemonade Day Alaska: kids have fun while facing complex challenges of business ownership.

Author:Klouda, Nolan

Young entrepreneurs Ryan and Taylor are experts at differentiating their business from the competition. Veteran lemonade stand proprietors, each year brings a new theme to their operation. Their first year witnessed an Alaska theme with fry bread as a featured dish; a taste of the islands followed with a Hawaiian theme complete with tropical flavored beverages. Most recently in 2014, they unveiled a Disney motif to raise money for a family trip to Disneyland. They market their stand by sending out tweets and Facebook updates through their parents' social media accounts. Through their strategically positioned stand in the same location each year (a busy grocery store in the Mountainview neighborhood of Anchorage) they are able to drum up both new and repeat business. Despite their changes every year, they have found one product to hold consistent: homemade whoopee pies. The boys' grandmother travels up from the Kenai Peninsula every year to help them make their signature product, which always sells out first.

Like many successful business owners, they face the complex challenges of financial management, marketing, product differentiation, and customer service. And they have fun doing it. That is the purpose of Lemonade Day Alaska.

Looking back at Lemonade Day Alaska's History

Lemonade Day is the brainchild of technology entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Holthouse, who launched the first Lemonade Day in Houston, Texas, in 2007. The idea came to him when his daughter Lissa, wanting a pet turtle, started her own lemonade stand to show that she could raise the money needed for her pet. The lessons she learned about finance, risk-taking, and leadership along the way--far beyond what she could learn in a classroom--impressed Holthouse. Little did they know at the time, but this insight would start a nationwide movement to empower youth through entrepreneurship. What started as a city-wide event in Houston with 2,700 kids has now spread across thirty-five cities in the United States and Canada, with more than 200,000 kids participating.

Seeing the success of the program in other communities, the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, in partnership with the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Business and Public Policy, decided to bring the program to Alaska in 2011. Lemonade Day appeared to be an excellent solution to a long-recognized problem: how to teach youth about entrepreneurship in a fun way.

"Alaska has...

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