While their elders fret about slowing economies and the need for job creation programs and other traditional measures, it’s clear that many of today’s youngsters are already preparing for their futures – as entrepreneurs.
As the Dragons’ Den special student edition showed, entrepreneurship has grown solid roots among Canada’s young people. Group after group wowed the Dragons with their innovative capacities, drawing amazed exclamations at their financial acumen and abilities to dream up a product and plan on how to take it to market.
The evening started off with a bang when 14-year-old Julian Marchese overturned the conventional thinking that day trading on the stock market is no game for kids, but is the purview of coffee-fueled, stressed out, hungry adults. Within minutes, he had the Dragons slavering to get in on his home-made technique to make money in the market.
Julian already had the Dragons astonished when he told them he first recommended a stock to his parents when he was only 9 years old. Because he was so young, they didn’t listen. But when the stock – a uranium plan – tripled in value, they took notice. Since he was 11, he had been trading small amounts of money for them.
Eventually he developed a computer program that traded while he was in school – and produced a 25 per cent return in the previous year. He wanted $50,000 to prove the value of his program.
“You are one crazy chicken,” said investment fund owner Kevin, admiring a young teen who not only convinced his non-stock-buying parents to provide some initial money for trading, but also pursued trades in risky areas like foreign exchange.
On hearing that Julian had ambitions to be a hedge-fund manager one day, Kevin jumped in with a proposition: Here’s an experiment. We’ll give you what you want and hire you as a manager to try it out for 30 days. If, at the end of a month, the new fund made money, Kevin would “load up” the fund.
Jim, Bruce and Arleen also came in, making it $12,500 each to meet the teenage sensation’s $50,000 ask. But Julian did have to point out that he was only 14. “I’m going to have to ask my parents.”
His parents were thrilled at the prospect of the Dragons financing the proof of Julian’s program, and a deal was done.
Will Julian’s program make the Dragons cold hard cash? It seems to me that it doesn’t really matter.
At the tender age of 14, a smart and polite boy had convinced four tough financiers to take a chance on him. They believed he had the ability to make money in the stock market, probably one of the hardest business roads to travel.
You can’t get much more entrepreneurial than that.