Local kids get chance to be ice cream entrepreneurs

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Eastern Iowa News Now
By: Hayley Bruce
July 12, 2012

Local kids get chance to be ice cream entrepreneurs

IOWA CITY -- Expresso Economy, Cookie Dough Takeover, and Mountain Climber Sludge were just the top three finalists among several ice cream flavors that local fifth and six graders had the chance to design as part of a camp put on by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurship Center this week.

And even though 10-year-old Nina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos walked away the winner with a concoction of coffee ice cream, mocha fudge swirl, and chocolate chips, she said the program isn't all fun, games, and frozen treats. It has also provided her with a lot of great business advice.

"The most useful thing we learned was probably the business plan," Lavezzo-Stecopoulos said. "But also the handshakes -- you have to smile and ask how people are doing and stuff."

The ice cream design workshop is put on Heyn's Ice Cream in Iowa City in memory of Paul Heyn, who came to the camp to teach campers how he started and ran his business before his death.

After he passed in 2008, his family donated $1,000 to provide scholarships to campers who couldn't otherwise afford to attend in his memory. And because of him, the tradition has continued, allowing campers to create their own flavors -- with the winning flavor being sold in the store for one month.

In addition to creating ice cream flavors, the participants in the one-week camp learn now to make money doing what the love. Diane Fickel, the lead instructor of the camp, said the campers were divided up into groups to put together a business plan.

After learning how to market their product and creating business cards and fliers, the campers will sell their products to each other, university staff, and parents in a farmer's-market-style setting in the Pappajohn Business Building on Friday.

The, campers also had the opportunity to visit several local businesses including M.C. Ginsberg, The Discerning Eye, Akar, and Yotopia.

Though business plans vary, 11-year-old Gaby Finlayson's group spend Friday afternoon selling key chains, bookmarks, cookies and lemonade. The Horn Elementary school student said their business -- Angel's Art -- will donate all of their proceeds to the Children's Hospital at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Lavezzo-Stecopoulos' group will be hosting a carnival -- with games similar to darts and bowling. The Lincoln Elementary School student said her group will also sell baked goods.

And as the popularity of small businesses continues to grow, Fickel said it's important to begin educating students about business management early on.

"More and more people today are starting their own business," Fickel said, adding the entrepreneurship classes at Iowa City West High, where she teaches business education, are always full. "More and more people, because of the economy, want to live the American dream and so giving kids a foundation for entrepreneurship - it's crazy."

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