Kid Everest, launched in March, is the first-ever crowdfunding platform created by kids for kids. It's safe for kids to use, charges slightly less than Kickstarter or GoFundMe, and was created by three intensely entrepreneurial pre-teen sisters who dreamed of helping other "kidpreneurs" get started with projects of their own.
Kid Everest was started by 14-year-old Kayla Serverius and 12-year-old twins Ashley and Keagan Serverius. The concept began two years ago after a teacher gave their class a challenge to come up with an idea that could change the world. The sisters were already seasoned entrepreneurs -- they'd sold slime and leftover Halloween candy at school and homemade soap to local boutiques. And they are so experienced at running lemonade stands that they've created a how-to guide for other kids.
When the sisters told their teacher about their plan for a kid-centered crowdfunding platform, he discouraged the idea. "He told us it was too big, and we should do something smaller and easier like everyone else was doing," Kayla recalls. "But we didn't want to just do a bake sale."
Too young for Kickstarter.
They knew there was a need for something like Kid Everest. Kayla had tried to run a campaign on Kickstarter at age 9, which is half as old as you need to be to use that platform. "There's nowhere you can really go," she told a local paper. Their parents had acted as seed investors for the sisters' projects in part because there was no other option. But they knew not all parents could do that. "We created the website so that kids not as fortunate as ourselves could have access," she says.
Along the way, Keagan says, "I've learned it's very difficult and takes a lot of hard work and dedication to start your business. We've been working on this for two years, and we just launched in March." Before they could go live, "it took a lot of research and a lot of talking to lawyers," she says, mostly to ensure that there was no danger of fraud. (Their mom handled most of the lawyer conversations, Keagan adds.) Kid Everest uses Stripe, so the founders don't deal directly with any money. The site was recently certified by the KidSafe Seal program, and is compliant under Coppa (the Children's Online Privace Protection Act).
Once the legalities were squared away, the sisters hired a web designer to build their website -- which they funded with lemonade sales, naturally. "One lemonade stand for three to four hours makes about $200," Kayla explains. "So we did that a few times over the summer." More recently, they used their $250 winnings in a pitch competition to upgrade the site.
So far, about a dozen kidpreneurs have raised a total of more than $2,500 on Kid Everest. Like Kickstarter, Kid Everest pays only if a project is fully funded, but to date all projects have met their goals. That's partly because the site offers a second chance to projects that fail to get funded by their original deadlines. The second time around, the sisters help with revising and refining the campaign to make it more successful.
Campaigns on the site at the moment include People Pops, toy characters based on popsicles who live at the back of the fridge, baking kits for kids at a STEM/Stream camp, and a museum/apparel store focused on people of color that teaches visitors about historical figures using QR codes in exhibits and on apparel.
What's been the biggest challenge for Kid Everest? "Being taken seriously," Kayla says. "Because we were so young, not a lot of adults took it seriously or thought it would go far." Those adults must not know the Serverius sisters well. If they did, they would never bet against them.