When Warren Buffett steps into a room, people always stop to listen, but on Monday he was there to listen to what others had to say.
Five people and three teams had an opportunity to pitch their products to the Oracle of Omaha at the fourth annual Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge.
“It’s a place for extracurricular learners, people who have a thirst for knowledge, to work together and build courses that they can’t access at their school,” commented Miroslav Bergam.
Bergam is the developer of Beyond the Books – only for children to obtain an education online about obscure subjects that might not be offered at their school.
Judges were in agreement that his idea was worthy of the top prize worth $5000 as the leader of the individual competition.
Jake Johnson, 2014 contest winner, was one of the judges who has since launched an entrepreneurial website for the younger generation called Treps.
“Children are 25% of the population, but they’re 100% of the future,” said Johnson. “Right now, being a young entrepreneur, it adds so much value to say that, ‘I’m 12 years old and I have my own business.’”
Local youngsters from Dundee elementary school also stole the show on Monday. Emily Harkins and Bryn Hansen dominated the competition with their product Keep Track Sticky Back.
“Yeah, we started freaking out, we started screaming. I was about to cry. I literally was crying. I couldn’t believe it,” said the duo.
Buffett understands that a lot of talent has come from Dundee.
“It was terrific,” said Warren Buffett about the presentation. “My first wife went to Dundee, all my kids went to Dundee, my partner Charlie Munger is 91 – went to Dundee.”
As a person who got their career started by selling bottles of Coke for a nickel, Buffett gets that these kids are a lot further ahead of the game.
“There’s nothing more important than the future and you’re looking at the future when you see a group of young people like this,” said Buffett.
Warren Buffett also invested in the contestants. Each one of the participants in the competition is going to receive 10 shares of Class B Berkshire Hathaway stock. “If you vote with me, we’ll control the company together.”