Omaha kids tackle entrepreneurship as industry opportunity rebounds post-pandemic

Kids try their hand at what it's like to run a business
Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 5:37 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Porter Hinrichs is 12 years old. He started making dog treats for his own dog when he was seven. Now you can find them at Heartland Paws, a pet store in Omaha.

“I think entrepreneurship is really cool. I would love to do this for the rest of my life,” said Hinrichs in his orange “Porter’s Pup Treats” apron.

Sunday, he sold his treats at the Omaha Children’s Business Fair.

His mom trusted her son to let him man the booth all by himself.

“We’ve learned lessons about how to stick with something when it’s hard and also how to overcome obstacles,” said Melissa Hinrichs, Porter’s mom.

There were 150 young entrepreneurs selling their goods at the Omaha Palazzo. From lemonade stands to 3D-printed toys. The event taught life-long business lessons.

“They’re thinking through: How do I make the product and actually get it done on time? How do I organize my time? How do I price my product? How do I market it? Or how do I invite people to come visit me at the fair? They’re learning about all those things,” said Rachel Benson, co-founder of Acton Academy Omaha, one of the organizations that put on the event. It was also hosted by Prairie STEM, a tech nonprofit.

Kids in Omaha are exploring entrepreneurship during a time when the industry is experiencing pandemic-related changes.

Economic stress brought on by the shutdowns and job losses shifted entrepreneurship from opportunity to necessity, according to Kauffman’s annual Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Report.

Data shows that the percentage of new entrepreneurs driven by choice sharply declined from pre-pandemic numbers in 2019 to 2020. That’s both nationwide and in Nebraska. 2021′s numbers rebounded nationwide starting a new business by choice rather than necessity.

Percent of new entrepreneurs driven by opportunity (Data from Kauffman Indicators of...
Percent of new entrepreneurs driven by opportunity (Data from Kauffman Indicators of Early-Stage Entrepreneurship 2021 National Report)(WOWT)

In Nebraska, that number still declined slightly. Although, young entrepreneurs like Hinrichs are certainly doing it on their own.

“I thought this is a good way to make some money and get dogs happy and healthy and kind of do all that jazz,” said Hinrichs

As kids sold their items Sunday afternoon, small business owners volunteered to give feedback on their work.