Jack Bonneau is the charismatic spokesperson for a successful business he started over two years ago. He operates multiple locations while balancing numerous activities outside of his business. He even had a successful appearance on Shark Tank in early 2017. By all measures, Bonneau is a role model for other entrepreneurs.
Jack Bonneau is also only 11 years old.
Bonneau is the founder of Jack's Stands and Marketplaces, a Denver-based company that plans, develops and provides retail spaces to young and aspiring entrepreneurs who sell products from his established marketplace of products (also produced and sold by young entrepreneurs).
Through his business, Bonneau's goal is to provide the opportunity for other young kids to "learn about business, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy ... while having fun and making some money."
Bonneau is clearly not your typical kid. When he was eight (two long years ago), he asked his father for a Lego Star Wars Death Star set. His dad said he could have it, but he would have to pay for it himself.
So Bonneau did what many young kids do to raise money -- he started a lemonade stand. He quickly realized, however, that a small lemonade stand at the end of his street was not going to be sufficient to earn the four hundred dollars he needed, so with the help of his dad, he opened a stand at a local farmers market "where there were plenty of customers that would want to buy great lemonade and ice tea from an eight year old."
The strategy worked, and he ended up earning enough money to buy his Lego Deathstar.
But Bonneau was not done. Even at such a young age, he saw opportunity. First, he realized that he was on to a good idea, namely that adults love to buy things from cute kids. Seriously, who can say no to a cute face with ambition?
Second, and more important, he knew there were many other young kids who wanted to act on their entrepreneurial aspirations but lacked the knowledge, confidence and ability to do so. This was his opportunity to share his experience and help others pursue their ideas.
The business was progressing well when Bonneau and his father were invited to appear on Shark Tank. The show's investors were clearly impressed with the idea and more so with Bonneau, but all declined an investment because they felt it important for Bonneau to prioritize academics.
The Shark Tank appearance was not a complete let down, and Bonneau did end up striking a deal for a loan with one investor, Chris Sacca, who emphatically started the negotiation by saying, "There is no way I am going to let the best pitch of the year get out the door without an offer."
Even he could not resist the cute face and ambition.
If this all sounds simple, it is -- but that is the beauty of Bonneau's business. In fact, sometimes childlike simplicity is a great remedy for older entrepreneurs who tend to overcomplicate and over think things.
When asked to share his advise and lessons with other kid entrepreneurs, Bonneau's words were as confident, clear and profound as any you could get from an experienced veteran business leader.
Find Your Passion
"First, find something that you're interested in and then find out all you can about it. Then do it. It can be a business, it can be anything. By doing it, you'll find out a lot about it and about yourself. You may change your mind and you may fail, which is more than ok. You'll find out what works and what doesn't. If you keep doing this you'll find your passion and something that makes you happy."
Build a Support Network
"Reach out to anyone you think can help you, and especially with your parents. You're a kid, and 99 percent of the people will help you. It's your advantage, so use it. You won't be a kid forever, and it'll get harder later."
Use Rejection as Motivation
"Don't be afraid of the word, 'no.' At my stands, I can get one hundred no's in an afternoon. I get plenty of no's for ideas I present to others -- and when I ask my dad for more screen time. I have learned that if I'm not getting a lot of no's, learning from them, and getting to 'yes', then I'm not trying hard enough."
This journey is far being over for Bonneau. He intends to continue with his academics while encouraging and helping other aspiring kid entrepreneurs through his stands and marketplace. He has even partnered with larger companies in this endeavor, such as Smuckers, as the summer spokesperson for Santa Cruz Organic, to continue to support aspiring, young entrepreneurs.