How do you make it easy for kids to learn how to be entrepreneurs--and not only learn about it, but actually go out and create a business? Los Angeles-based Kidworth (www.kidworth.com) is looking to both help kids learn about entrepreneurship, and more importantly, make it easy for them to set up an online store, sell their services or products, and even handle things like collecting payments via credit card. We spoke with Rudy DeFelice, founder of the site and a local serial entrepreneur, to hear about the vision for Kidworth and it's mission of creating millions of young entrepeneurs.
What exactly is Kidworth?
Rudy DeFelice: Kidworth is the easiest place to launch a busines son the Internet. We're focused on the youth market, teens primarily. We're trying to give them a simple way to launch a business, offer to do jobs, and sell things.
Rudy DeFelice: I think it's a special time in life. Kids are naturally creative. With all the kids we talk to, we find that their business heroes are the startup guys. They don't know who is running Exxon Mobile or Coca Cola, but can name five to ten web startup founders who have really affected their lives. This is our chance to get to them before they've been taught that this is impossible, and actually get them out there to run a small business. My experience is, once you've built something from scratch, you believe anything is possible in life. It's a nice time to empower kids with that success.
How does Kidworth help them with that?
Rudy DeFelice: We're giving them a place where, in a couple of minutes, they can set up a simple business and sell things. Those things are typically services. We provide a whole bunch of sample services that it might be appropriate for teens to do, or they can create their own, or they can offer things to sell. If they want to sell things, those might be things they've grown out of: clothes, recreational equipment, old gaming devices, and electronics, or even things they've made. We've got artists and craftspeople selling things through KidWorth. So, they get a way to build a site, demonstrate their things, and have people come and interact with them via credit card. We handle all of the credit card transactions for them, collect the money, and transfer it to them. We also provide some coaching, helping them think about their product, market things, brand themselves, and also have some marketing tools available, like direct response email marketing and free business cards. Kids are really excited about that one. We take the logistics out of starting up a business. They don't need to know how to code, deal with legal filings, or all of that kind of stuff.
What's the story behind Kidworth and how you decided to start it?
Rudy DeFelice: Really, the kernel was planted during the last financial crises. As a parent, I wanted to help the next generation get a better start. I had been at a law firm, working as a lawyer doing corporate restructuring. I got into the startup world and entrepreneurship, which was good for me. I wanted to give back. I had a concern for the next generation and a desire to give back to the startup world, which congealed around getting kids thinking practically about their financial life, early on. It evolved into this idea of Kidworth. Our mission is to launch a million startups, which I think would be profound for society. We wanted to democratize the process, and make the startup world and entrepreneurship available to everyone.
How does this work with offline transactions, and is this both online and offline?
Rudy DeFelice: It's a little bit of both, although most of the marketing happens online. This generation is digital native, and they live online to a great extent. I'm sure you've seen teens sitting next to each other, texting each other. They just communicate that way. If someone sees a job or project, they can reserve it and enter their credit card online. For Kidworth, we get a 99 cent convenience fee, which is our only charge. Some people might go around that, if they're doing something like yard work or baby sitting, and they might go around the system and transact locally, which is okay for us. However, over time, we'll be introducing league tables and other status information which will create the incentive for them to work harder, and at the same time, convince them to do their work through the system so we can track it. We'll provide record keeping when money collection is through KidWorth.
Where are you in launching this, and are kids using it yet?
Rudy DeFelice: The reaction has been unbelievable. We just launched a week ago, and we've had tremendous amount of publicity, interest, and usership. It's grown consistently every day. We have 24,000 people in our community using our stores, and we already have some breakout successes. We have one kid who is creating Anime and selling it on the site, which has been an instant sensation. That led us to realize that we might end up having the next, famous artist on Kidwirth. I think we might have the next Mark Zuckerberg or next Steve Jobs, starting a simple business, learning what they can achieve, and going on to more, sophisticated things over time. Other kids might just create a local, small business, but will earn some money, develop their business skills, and confidence. We're proud to be part of all of it.
Thanks, and good luck!