When Jack Bonneau was 8 years old, he badly wanted a Legos Death Star. “Sure,” his father said, “but you have to pay for it.” That was a deal-breaker – the toy cost $400.
It may have seemed like a lot to ask of an 8-year-old, and perhaps it was – but perhaps Jack’s father knew what he was doing. Jack not only raised the money but, now 12, the has transformed what he learned about raising money into a profitable business.
His dad at least pointed Jack in the right direction by suggesting that he open a lemonade stand to earn the money. Jack took that suggestion and ran with it, to put it mildly.
“After 12 weeks I made $900, after expenses, and I learned some valuable lessons and, yes, I got my Legos Death Star,” Jack explains.
He didn’t stop there. Now 12, he is the owner of Jack’s Stands and Marketplaces, a network of lemonade stands, all run by kids and a marketplace where he sells products from other entrepreneurs, all kids. He has even been on the TV show “Shark Tank.”
It all started with a lemonade stand at a farmer’s market in Denver, where Jack lives with his dad Steve and mom Mary. They loaned him money to get started. After his stellar start, Jack – with his father’s help – created a website and offered fellow kids the opportunity to operate a lemonade stand.
The website offers advice, tips and training on lemonade stands for other young entrepreneurs. He found several locations young entrepreneurs can use to sell their products. He teaches kids how to make change and how to set up a system to accept credit cards. He provides his stands with the lemonade, cups – even the lemonade stand, which his dad builds.
Already a shrewd businessman, Jack gets a cut of the profits in exchange for providing help.
Jack even has sealed a deal with Good Times, a frozen custard place, and operates stands in 35 locations.
His passion is helping other kids make money, Jack says. One of his favorite success stories from his chain of lemonade stands are Audrey and Riland, two sisters who sell their handmade head bands at his stands.
All that success won him a lot of attention, including write-upds in local media and an appearance on the national TV show “Shark Tank.” He made a pitch to Shark Tank to get 10 percent equity in his business in exchange for a $50,000 investment.
Steve Bonneau appeared in the episode with his son but Jack did much of the talking himself. The shows “sharks” – successful entrepreneurs with money to invest if you answer tough questions and convince them you have a viable business – were impressed and decided to give Jack $50,000 for two percent of his profits.
His father is COO of the business and Jack is the CEO. The stands have business licenses and sales tax permits. His parents urged him to treat his venture like a real business.
In fact, Jack has turned to a commercial kitchen to bottle the lemonade so he could get dispensers and provide them to his business outlets.
In his “Shark Tank” appearance, Jack explained his motivations. He said his business “provides kids and their families the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, business and financial literacy – all while having fun and making money.” He also said he wants to “inspire our nation’s youth.”
Bonneau doesn’t know just what he wants to do when he grows up, except for his desire to be an entrepreneur and to help kids.