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Teen Entrepreneurs Learn Life Lessons

Meet Nolan Reese and Ben DeLaurelle, the 14-year-old entrepreneurs behind B&N Games. High school freshmen Ben and Nolan participated in JA programs during their middle school grades. Like Microsoft, their start-up company began in Nolan's parents' garage. Sue Schwartz, director of Brown County and Wolf River District for JA of Wisconsin, shared the stories of these two successful teen entrepreneurs.

The young men knew they needed to make a quality product to beat the competition—and they did! They created a hand-crafted outdoor Washer Toss game. Crafted from high quality lumber, quality PVC and galvanized washers, these hand-painted outdoor games will last for years to come. 

Through trial and error, Ben and Nolan discovered ways to improve their process, but encountered stumbling blocks to increasing their profits. They reached out to JA volunteer, board chairman and business owner Chris Vanderheyden who worked closely with them as they uncovered solutions to their barriers.

Chris gave Ben and Nolan the opportunity to present their product to Junior Achievement in Brown County's Senior Advisory Board at the September 2014 annual meeting. They created a professional presentation and soon found themselves in a "Shark Tank" scenario where experienced business leaders posed their ideas and challenges to the young entrepreneurs.

The outcomes of this encounter brought many opportunities for Ben and Nolan. Business leaders in the audience have donated many of the raw materials Ben and Nolan use to make their product, increasing their profits dramatically. The connections made by the JA mentor have also increased sales for B&N Games significantly.

"Junior Achievement helped us realize anything can be accomplished with hard work and ingenuity," Nolan and Ben said. "We learned that a good plan is a must in order to be successful. One of the big tasks in the business was creating a solution to lower the supply cost of each of our products. In order to do this, we researched product prices, looked online and in newspapers, and went to the store with the best deals. Collaboration is key when communicating and scheduling work time to fulfill the customers' orders efficiently."

Ben and Nolan's mentor Chris continues to work with them and advise them as they enjoy the success of their entrepreneurial adventure.

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