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This lemonade czar is all of 10 years old

A precocious business-kid epitomizes can-do spirit of GenXYZ achievers


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When life hands you lemons, the saying goes, you make lemonade. Unless you’re Jack Bonneau – then you build a business.

Jack is a bright-eyed 10-year-old with a black belt in karate. He plays the piano. And he’s CEO and founder of Jack’s Marketplaces & Stands.

In 2014, Jack longed for a Star Wars Death Star LEGO set, a $400 toy. The hefty price tag prompted Steve Bonneau to encourage his son to earn the money himself. Motivated, Jack started his business, devising an ambitious plan to peddle beverages at The Orchards Farmers Market in Westminster throughout the summer.

Then 8, Jack got a sales tax license, insurance and health permits, purchased organic lemonade and iced tea, cups, paper towels, ice, coolers and wood to build the stand. He achieved sales of $2,000 that first summer.

“Then he wanted to share it with other kids,” recalls Steve Bonneau, who leaps back in time to his own childhood paper route and a desire to “teach [Jack] the basics of business.”

By the following spring, the Bonneaus drafted an expansion plan, starting a website – JacksStands.com – that allowed kids to sign up at one of four locations– adding Erie, Louisville and Lafayette. Jack prepared permits, drinks and accouterment in exchange for a cut of the profits. He also recruited a sales team of other kids whose parents saw the opportunity.

Jack is among thousands of children who have enrolled in courses at the Young Americans Center, a state-chartered, FDIC-insured banks designed specifically for young people to learn financial responsibility through  banking products and services. Others have taken out loans from the Young Americans Bank. The center, launched by the “father of cable television,” Bill Daniels, in the late 1980s, teaches financial literacy and personal finance to kids ages 6 to 21.

Today, the Bonneaus estimate that 250 kids have worked for Jack’s Stands, slinging drinks and learning the books.

In 2015, sales were $25,000.  This June, Jack was selected to present a big idea at the Aspen Institute’s Spotlight Health conference. He cited Bill Gates, Benjamin Franklin and Warren Buffett as former paper boys who developed the “grit and life experience,” to make it in the long-run. Encouraging the audience of industry leaders and public officials to put kids to work in their communities, he received a standing ovation.

Jack’s greatest challenge? “The balance between school and friends and work,” he says.

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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