It’s time! All of those brilliant ideas for new products, services, and creations that the young people in your lives have cooked up, now have a place to shine. The first annual Winnetka IDEA Tank for Kids, happening Wednesday, July 17 at 7 p.m. at the Winnetka Chapel, is open for entry, and registration to kids aged 8 to 14 living anywhere in the Chicago area.
The free event, created by Lowey Bundy Sichol, author of four, books for children on entrepreneurship, gives kids the chance to pitch their bright ideas to an impressive “Shark Tank” panel of business leaders, including founders, and executives from the Chicago Blackhawks, Peapod, Merrill Lynch, Valslist.com, and Spynergy Chicago.
Participants will have the opportunity to present their ideas to the panel, with cash-prizes awarded for the top five ideas, T-shirts for all participants, and a $1,000 grand prize for the brightest idea in the bunch. The event is open to the public and the community is encouraged to attend to cheer everyone on.
“Kids can change the world through their ideas!” says Sichol, “And entrepreneurship is the path to do it. I meet so many children who are full of great ideas, but are afraid to put them out there. I tell them, “It doesn’t matter what your background is, what language you speak, or the color of your skin. You don’t have to be the smartest kid in the class to have a good idea, but you do have to believe in it and have the courage to give it a try.””
Before writing her books, Sichol, who has an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and had a career in brand management, and marketing, spent years writing case studies for leading business schools on the people and companies that transformed great ideas into successful endeavors.
“Every single one of these entrepreneurs had three things in common,” she says. “They had an idea that solved a problem. They were not afraid to fail. And they worked their tails off to take their ideas and make them realities.”
To participate in the Winnetka IDEA Tank, kids need to fill-out an online application form at www.winnetkaideatank.com/register-now, summarizing their idea, and including some key information.
“Be sure to include information on which problem your idea solves and if it’s a product, try to figure out how much it would cost to manufacture. How much would you sell it for? Where would you sell it? And who would your customers be?” says Sichol.
For kids who’d like to work on prototypes of their products, in order to help them with their presentation, The Winnetka Library has a Maker Space area in the basement, complete with 3D printers, and other tools.
If all goes well with the first event, Sichol hopes to expand IDEA Tank for Kids to other cities, bringing it back to Chicago every summer.
“I may also expand it to include different age groups–10 and under, 11-14, and high school,” says Sichol, who spent the Spring touring the country talking to kids at schools about entrepreneurship.
Her book series “From an Idea to…” from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,includes books on Nike, Disney, Google, and LEGO. The first two books published in February. The second two come out July 9.
The nonfiction biographies invite young readers into the world of entrepreneurship by telling the stories of how favorite companies came to be. Each book begins with the founder as a child and brings kids through the journey of starting a company from an idea to becoming one of the biggest brands in the world,
Sichol explains: “There are fun facts about the brands we love, easy-to-understand business terms, and I’ve included humor on every page with graphic novel-like black & white illustrations from C. S. Jennings.”
“My goal with all of this is to inspire kids to believe in their ideas, to give those ideas a shot! It can be scary to get up and present an idea, but getting over that fear can lead to great things,” she sums.
Sponsors for the Winnetka IDEA Tank include Jimmy John’s, Longfellow Real Estate Partners, Spynergy, Merrill Lynch, Valslist.com, Lyn Flannery, The Book Stall, Truesdale Coaching and Consulting, Llc, and the Winnetka Public Library.