3 things women can learn about business from 11-year-old CEO Mikaila Ulmer
When Mikaila Ulmer was just four years old, her family encouraged her to make a product for a Children’s business competition (the Acton Children’s Business Fair) and Austin Lemonade Day.
So she got to work and thought about some ideas. While she was thinking, two big events happened. She was stung twice by a bee. Then her Great Granny Helen, who lives in Cameron, South Carolina, sent her family a 1940’s cookbook, which included her special recipe for Flaxseed Lemonade.
Makaila revealed that she didn’t enjoy the bee stings at all. They scared her. But then something strange happened. She became fascinated with bees. She learned all about what they do for her and our ecosystem.
So then she thought, what if she makes something that helps honeybees using her Great Granny Helen’s recipe?
”That’s how Me & the Bees Lemonade was born. It comes from my Great Granny Helen’s flaxseed recipe and my new love for bees. So that’s why we sweeten it with local honey. And today my little idea continues to grow. It was a sweet success from the start.”
Year-after-year, Mikaila, sells-out of her Me & the Bees Lemonade at youth entrepreneurial events while donating a percentage of the profits from the sale of her lemonade to local and international organizations fighting hard to save the honeybees. That is why she touts: Buy a Bottle…Save a Bee.
Now at age 11, when not at her lemonade stand telling all the digestive benefits of flaxseed, you can find Mikaila leading workshops on how to save the honeybees, and participating in social entrepreneurship panels.
Mikaila launched her own Facebook page, where visitors can ‘Like’ interesting facts about bees, honey and Me & the Bees Lemonade.
Today, the award-winning Me & the Bees Lemonade is buzzing off the shelves of Whole Foods Market, the world’s leader in natural and organic foods, and available at a growing number of restaurants, food trailers and natural food delivery companies.
In April 2016, young entrepreneurs learned a lesson or two about entrepreneurship from 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer. Ulmer, who appeared on Shark Tank in 2015 was just 9 years old at the time of her pitch.
After a compelling story about her product lemonade sweetened with flaxseed, her great-grandmother’s recipe –Ulmer received a deal from Fubu CEO Daymond John for $60,000.
The investment spurred movement in her business, leading to a four-state deal with Whole Foods to sell her lemonade, BeeSweet Lemonade, which was recently rebranded to Me & the Bees Lemonade.
Young entrepreneurs are on the rise, with a strong focus on millennials. Yet, this young entrepreneur is even too young to be considered a millennial.
As a member of the “Generation Z” cohort, Ulmer is setting the stage for a successful career, while defying the odds and becoming an entrepreneur at a young age. Here’s what millennials and women in the entrepreneur community can learn from Ulmer’s experience as a young innovator:
1. You are not too young.
Saying “I’m too young to start a company” or “I don’t have enough experience” can be a common phrase among young entrepreneurs. Eleven-year-old Ulmer is teaching many who may have doubted themselves that they’re not too young to make waves in an industry. If you’re solving a real problem and you find the right solution to the problem or the right business in a market with opportunity, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Rather than disqualifying yourself based on lack of business experience, consider the experience – and the passion – that you do have to make a difference. Your age, energy and optimism might help you in ways you never thought they would.
Ulmer was a normal kid until she was stung by a bee and had an idea to transform her experience into a solution. Now, she’s on a mission – to use her special family recipe and to help save the bees that are dying out. Of course, being stung by a bee isn’t pleasant, just as many of our life experiences are not pleasant. But following Ulmer’s example, we must think twice about the experiences we’ve had. What began as a simple bee sting led to her growing fascination with bees, and the combined experience and growing interest led to her booming business today. Taking life experience and transforming it into tangible solutions, innovations or businesses can lead to success in unique ways. You just have to be willing to be creative and find the correlations between problem and solution.
3. You are not being ‘too ambitious.’
Being a featured product or business on Shark Tank is not easy – it is ambitious. Ulmer and her team pursued this ambition, ultimately leading to the funding that was fundamental to her present-day success. Though there can be many naysayers as a young entrepreneur, it’s important to remember that you have it within you to do something great, even if it seems too ambitious or far-fetched. The greatest success stories in the professional world usually spur out of risk – risking it all in pursuit of your dreams. This speaks volumes to the tenacity and drive of young entrepreneurs, and those who ultimately find success.