On September 7, KidsFest Business Fair will take place in Shawnee, Kansas. The fair will take place from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and provide kids, ages 6-16 the opportunity to be entrepreneurs! Founded by Matt Mann, a recreation coordinator with the City of Shawnee KS, KidsFest is a project he’s thought about for several years. “I wanted the students to have fun with STEM, then display their findings, projects, etc.”
His initial conceptualization was to do a science fair-type of experience for fun, where they could solve problems, present ideas, etc. outside of the scope of school. “At the Y (my previous employer) there is a national program called Thingamajig that aligned with this, and I started building towards it before taking the position in Shawnee with parks and recreation in February 2018.”
Matt looked at events around the metro area, after receiving calls from families whose children wanted to have a booth. He took that information with his initial science-fair concept and married them together to create the first KidsFest Business Fair.
There will be at least 25 young entrepreneurial booths, ranging from KC Slime Co, Magic Mermaid Bookmarks, the Button Factory, baked goods, and more. KidsFest will also offer two unique events — A “Shark Tank” style session and “One Million Cups/Ted-Talk” Presentations.
Kids can sign up for the “Shark Tank” event and pitch their ideas to experts in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship, where they will receive positive feedback to take and make their dreams grow. This will be open to any youths in community who want to share and pitch their dream idea.
Business owners and experts will speak to the young entrepreneurs on how to create a business and tell their own personal story in the “Ted Talk” portion. The 10-12 minute sessions will be offered during the morning to anyone who wants to listen to guidance, business stories, and what advice they’d give the youths of today.
“Our mission at Shawnee Parks and Recreation is ‘Creating Opportunities for the Community to Explore, Engage and Connect’ and this event truly encompasses this,” Matt stated. “It’s inspiring our community to rally around creative kids, to foster a community of support for business development, and just have fun on a Saturday morning.”
With this being the inaugural year, Matt is hoping that each year will be better and better. “Year one of this event is going to be inspiring; year three can be epic. I am super excited to see this thing through to then, growing an amazing weekend of encouraging ownership, pride in what one makes with their hands, dreaming big and even “failing” but learning from mistakes… these are “soft skills” that this event is going to grow and I love being a part of something great like it.”
Kansas City is an engaging community, and Matt and his team would love to see the public come out and support these young entrepreneurs. “This year especially, we want an amazing turnout for these youth and families; on the applications, youth are saying ‘I hope I make back what I borrowed from my parents’ or ‘If I sell more than I spent, I’ll succeed’ … let’s really knock it out of the park for these youth and sell them all out and create future business for them by taking business cards. Maybe we can help these kids grow a lifestyle of self-sustaining business, a side gig to support their families… and have fun in doing it.”
In conclusion, Kansas City, come out and shop on September 7th and support the next generation of business leaders! If you love this idea and want to be involved this year or next, Matt and the City of Shawnee would love to speak to you. “This can and will grow if we work together!”