Meet Mighty, an e-commerce platform where kids are the boss; a “digital lemonade stand” – TechCrunch

Until the children reach a certain age, the enrichment programs are in some ways limited to school, sports and camps, while opportunities for making money are largely non-existent.

Now, a year-old LA-based startup called Mighty, a type of Shopify that invites younger children to open an online store, wants to partially fill the void. In fact, Mighty – led by founders Ben Goldhirsh, who previously founded GOOD magazine, and Dana Mauriello, who spent nearly five years at Etsy and most recently advised Sidewalk Labs – is hoping to woo families with the pitch it is in the . runs center for fintech, ed tech and entertainment.

As is so often the case, the concept comes from the founder’s own experience. In this case, Goldhirsh, who lives in Costa Rica, was worried about his two daughters attending a small six-person school. Fearing they might fall behind their counterparts in the States, he began homeschooling them using Khan Academy among other software platforms. But the girls’ reaction wasn’t exactly positive.

“They said,” F * ck you Dad. We just finished school and now you are making us do more school? ‘”

Unsure of what to do, he encouraged them to sell the bracelets they had made online, thinking it would give them the math skills they need, as well as seed capital, business plans (he let them write), and marketing teach. It worked, he says, and when he told friends about this successful “project-based learning project,” they asked if he could help their children get started.

Fast forward and Goldhirsh and Mauriello – who ran a crowdfunding platform that Goldhirsh invested in before joining Etsy – say they are now running a beta startup that now has 3,000 CEOs, like Mighty calls her.

The interest is not surprising. Children spend more time online than ever before. Many of the real businesses that once employed young children are getting smaller and smaller. Aside from babysitting or selling cookies on the corner, finding a job before high school is also difficult, as the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years. (Even then, many employers fear that their young employees may have more work than it’s worth.)

Investors think it’s a pretty solid idea, too. Mighty recently closed a $ 6.5 million seed funding led by Animo Ventures that included Maveron, Humbition, Sesame Workshop, Collaborative Fund and NaHCO3, a family office.

Even so, it is difficult to build a platform for children. First off, not many 11 year olds have the persistence it takes to keep their own businesses going over time. While Goldhirsh compares the business to a “21st century lemonade stand,” running a business that doesn’t close by the end of the afternoon is a whole different matter.

Goldhirsh admits that no kid wants to hear that they have to “drag” their business or follow a certain path, and he says Mighty certainly sees kids show up for the weekend to make some money. Still, he points out, many others have undeniable entrepreneurship and tend to stick around. In fact, Goldhirsh says, the company – backed by its new seed funding – has a lot to do to keep its hungriest young CEOs happy.

For example, many are frustrated that they cannot currently sell their homemade items through Mighty. Instead, they are invited to sell items such as hats, tote bags and stickers that they customize and that are made by Mighty’s current production partner, Printful, who then ships the item to the end customer. (The Mighty CEO receives a percentage of the sale, as does Mighty.)

Through a partnership Mighty has partnered with Novica, they can also sell items made by global artisans, an impact marketplace that also sells through National Geographic.

The idea was to have as little friction as possible in the beginning, but “our customers are mad – they want more from us,” says Goldhirsh, explaining that Mighty has no intention of having his smaller entrepreneurs sell their own one day enable items and services (think lawn care) that the platform does not currently support either.

In terms of making money, Mighty plans to integrate subscription services at some point and generate transaction-based income.

It’s intriguing by and large, although the startup may have to fend off established players like Shopify should it gain momentum.

It’s also conceivable that parents – if not child advocates – might be pushing back what Mighty is trying to do. After all, entrepreneurship can be alternately exhilarating and demoralizing; It’s a roller coaster, some may not want kids to ride it at such a young age.

Mauriello insists that they have not yet received any such feedback. For one thing, Mighty recently launched an online community where her young CEOs can encourage each other and share sales tips, and she says they are actively involved there.

She also argues that, like playing sports or learning to play a musical instrument, there are lessons to be learned from creating a store on Mighty. Storytelling and selling are part of it, but just as critically, she says, the company’s young customers learn that “you can fail and pick yourself up and try again”.

Goldhirsch adds: “There are definitely children who say, ‘Oh, this is more difficult than I thought. I can’t just start the site and watch the money come in. ‘ But I think they like the fact that they deserve the success they see because we don’t do it for them. “

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