True Leaders in Action: With Help from UNH Entrepreneurship Expert, 4-H Inventors Learn What it Takes to Start a Business

Ian Grant to team: “It’s not about the idea, it’s about the execution.”

By Sarah Schaier, Production Editor

Five middle-schoolers from 4-H Rogue Robots club met with Ian Grant, director of the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center, on April 24, to learn how to turn their product prototype into a thriving small business and income stream for their 4-H club.

Grant, who has founded companies, led innovation projects at Fortune 500 companies and has a wealth of start-up experience, was excited to help the team, especially after seeing their poise and confidence.

“You guys all presented so well,” he commented after listening to the product pitch from Anna Numme, age 12, Hannah Lembree, age 13, Josh Shuey, age 13, Finn Allen, age 13, and Joe Woods, age 12. “You crushed it.”

The team spent a couple of hours with Grant discussing the costs involved in getting their product market, how to conduct effective market research, and what they would need to charge to make a reasonable profit. Grant also shared ideas for reducing their costs and offered to put them in touch with UNH-connected professionals who could advise on outsourcing their manufacturing and other tasks.

“From the beginning, we knew we would want to outsource to make sure we have a high-quality product,” said Pam Numme, club leader and parent of two Rogue Robots: Anna and Alison, age 14, who is one of the team’s junior mentors.

The team had done some of their own research about pricing and target customers, but Grant pointed out a few costs, market variables and sales strategies that they hadn’t considered.

Grant also reminded the team not to “give away the secret sauce” — i.e. not divulge information that would give others a chance to steal their idea.

“I had thought about materials and labor, but a lot of the other stuff was a surprise,” said Joe Woods, from Stoddard. “We definitely got a lot of helpful information.”

Despite the challenges that many entrepreneurs face, Grant pointed out the team’s valuable selling proposition: a really cool product produced by enterprising and smart kids.

Although details about their invention — which won a Public Safety Award at the First Lego League state competition — are being kept under wraps, someday soon you may see these ambitious Rogue Robots on a morning show or featured in a magazine or newspaper. And if you’re a dog owner (hint, hint), you just might become one of their happy customers.

Pictured: Ian Grant and Josh Shuey

New Hampshire’s 4-H youth development program builds valuable lifelong skills in science, healthy living and leadership through clubs, camps, in-school and after-school activities. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in joining or volunteering for 4-H, please contact the 4-H coordinator in your county Cooperative Extension office.