Author Chat with Brian Weisfeld & Nicole C Kear (The Startup Squad), Plus Guest Post & Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Brian Weisfeld & Nicole Carr authors of The Startup Squad.
Read on for more about Brian & Nicole, plus an interview, guest post and an giveaway!
Meet Brian Weisfeld!
Brian Weisfeld has been building businesses his entire life. In elementary school, he bought 95 pounds of gummy bears and hired his friends to sell them. As a teen, he made and sold mixtapes (ask your parents what those are), sorted baseball cards (he got paid in cards), babysat four days a week after school, and sold nuts and dried fruit (and more gummy bears) in a neighborhood store. As an adult, Brian helped build a number of well-known billion-dollar companies including IMAX Corporation and Coupons. Brian is the Founder and Chief Squad Officer of The Startup Squad, an initiative dedicated to helping girls reach their potential, whatever their passions. Brian lives in Silicon Valley and can often be found eating gummy bears with his wife while watching his two daughters sell lemonade from the end of their driveway.
Visit Brian's website to email him directly and sign up for his newsletter.
Visit and learn more about Brian on Facebook or on Twitter. You can also learn more about The Startup Squad on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more!
Meet Nicole C Kear!
Nicole C. Kear grew up in New York City, where she still lives, with her husband, three firecracker kids and a ridiculously fluffy hamster. She's written lots of essays and a memoir, Now I See You, for grownups, and The Fix-It Friends series for kids. She has a bunch of fancy, boring diplomas, and one red clown nose from circus school. Seriously.
Meet The Startup Squad!
Girls mean business in a brand-new middle grade series about friendship and entrepreneurship!
All the great leaders had to start somewhere. And Theresa (“Resa” for short) is starting with the lemonade stand competition her teacher assigned to the class―but making it a success is going to be a lot harder than Resa thinks.
The prize: line-skipping tickets to Adventure Central. The competition: Val, Resa's middle school nemesis. And the biggest obstacle to success: Resa's own teammates. Harriet is the class clown, Amelia is the new girl who thinks she knows best, and Didi is Resa's steadfast friend―who doesn't know the first thing about making or selling lemonade. The four of them quickly realize that the recipe for success is tough to perfect―but listening to each other is the first step. And making new friends might be the most important one...
The back of each book features tips from the Startup Squad and an inspirational profile of a girl entrepreneur!
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
My inspiration was my two daughters. I watched my older daughter attempt to sell Girl Scout cookies and run a charity bake sale with far more enthusiasm than knowledge about how to actually market and sell a product. A couple of months later I was reading books with my girls on a Sunday morning and wishing that there were more books that could both entertain and inspire my girls. For some reason, those two experiences combined in my brain and I decided to create a novel series for girls that would empower them with an entrepreneurial mindset.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came before the title. The original manuscript had the working title of Harriet Martin and the Lemonade Stand and was a proof of concept or what Silicon Valley would call a Minimum Viable Product. While I was working on the final book with my publishers at Imprint (Macmillan) and my co-author Nicole C. Kear, we started brainstorming series names. I wanted the title to signal to parents and teachers that this series was about entrepreneurship, but to signal to girls that it was about fun and friendship. My hope was that girls who never thought of starting their own businesses would pick up this fun story about four sixth-grade girls and be inspired to start their entrepreneurial journeys. Hence, The Startup Squad.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I’m most proud of the structure of the book. The book has three sections which I refer to as inspirational, informational, and aspirational. The first inspirational section is the narrative, a novel about friendship and entrepreneurship which will hopefully inspire girls to open their first businesses and start their entrepreneurial journeys. The second informational section is six pages of non-fiction where we relate the narrative to business concepts. For example, we explain that the scene in which the characters made a big sign for their lemonade stand was all about marketing and then we provide some other marketing tips drawing from the narrative. In book #1 we provide information and tools about sales, marketing, merchandising, and location that girls can apply to their businesses. The final aspirational section is a profile of an actual girl entrepreneur, 11-year old Sara Robinson of Georgia who runs Sara Sews, a business selling aprons for girls and dolls as well as decorative banners. Sara is an aspirational role model who can give readers the confidence to start their own businesses.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
To recognize what I don’t know and be willing to seek help wherever I can get it. I was not by any definition “a writer” when I had the inspiration, and I still consider myself more of an author than a writer. But in creating the original manuscript that inspired The Startup Squad, I relied on a number of outside sources including books about writing, writing classes, the support and mentoring of the incredible SCBWI (a special shout out and thank you to SCBWI SF South crew), 10 year-old beta readers, and a number of freelance children’s book editors who guided me along this journey. To say that The Startup Squad would not exist without the help of so many people is a major understatement.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Two things. First, seeing how the amazingly talented Maike Plenske visualized the characters and brought them to life. We created a diverse group of characters for The Startup Squad because we wanted to create mirrors and windows for our readers so that all girls could either see characters that reflect their own culture or get a view into someone else’s experience. My other favorite thing is a funny story. My younger daughter has a great eye and notices things that I miss all the time. After we finalized the cover, and everyone signed off on all the details, I printed a picture of the cover and taped it to the wall of my home office. My then 10-year old daughter came home from school, dropped her backpack, and ran over to see the picture of the “final” cover. Within seconds she pointed to one of the characters and blurted out that her teeth were too big and looked funny. Turns out she was right and all the adults in the room had missed it. Luckily, we were able to do a little dental work on Harriet for the truly final cover.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Right now we are working on book #2 which will be released in May 2020 and getting ready to launch our contest to find a girl entrepreneur to profile in that book. The contest will launch this summer and we invite all girlpreneurs between the ages of 7 and 14 to enter. We are also finalizing a host of entrepreneurial-themed resources and activities for parents and girls and hope to have those materials up on our website by the book’s launch on May 7.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Yes! The goal of The Startup Squad is not to create the next generation of female entrepreneur (although that would be great, too!). Our belief is that girls who develop an entrepreneurial mindset – who see opportunities where others see problems, develop grit and a growth mindset, learn how to sell something be it a physical product or one of their ideas, get comfortable with risk, and to realize that failure is not what happens when you don’t succeed, but rather what happens when you don’t try in the first place – will have a far greater chance to reach their potential in life regardless of the path that they choose. Our hope is that girls will read the book, be inspired to start their own businesses, and begin to develop that entrepreneurial mindset.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I’m a big fan of the work being done by Girls Inc of NYC. They work with girls in the five boroughs of New York City and inspire all girls to be smart, strong, and bold. 65% of the girls in their programs come from families with a household income of $30,000 per year or less. In March, we partnered with Girls Inc of NYC for 100inspiring100, a program to get The Startup Squad into the hands of girls who might not otherwise have access to it, and to help empower those underserved girls with an entrepreneurial mindset. To date we’ve donated nearly 7,000 books to Girls Inc of NYC and over 50 female leaders have left lemonade stand advice for the girls.
~ Guest Post ~
LEMONADE AND MORE: FUN SUMMER BUSINESS IDEAS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade—and open a stand. Obviously. If you want to make a few bucks and spend the summer doing more than binging on Netflix and watching YouTube videos (although that sounds like fun, too!), we’ve got some ideas for you.
And while we are 100% in favor of lemonade stands, we also recognize that you might be interested in starting a summer business that doesn’t involve pouring beverages. The Startup Squad has done some brainstorming and has come up with several other ways you can make some extra cash.
TOP FIVE SUMMER BUSINESS IDEAS
Dog walking/pet sitting
Summer is vacation season, which means pet owners will be searching for people to help take care of their pets while they are away. If you are an animal lover, providing some type of pet service for dog owners is the perfect side hustle. You can even make homemade doggie treats (there are plenty of recipes online, like these) and use them as an upsell to pet walking, sitting services, even poop scooping (yuck!). Or you can buy them from 11-year old Madison, an aspiring veterinarian who started Tons of Treats – her own line of organic and gluten-free dog treats.
Crafts, jewelry and other homemade items
Are you creative? Resourceful? Platforms like Etsy provide a great way to sell wares online. On Etsy, you pay 20 cents to list a product and then a commission of 3.5% on each sale. The policy for kids is that the Etsy shop must be owned and managed by your parent or legal guardian. If you think you can’t earn a lot of money this way—think again. When 9-year-old Zandra Cunningham’s dad told her “no” to buying lip gloss, she decided to make some. Zandra started her own business right before her 10th birthday, and began producing and selling lip balms and body butter at local farmers’ markets in Buffalo, New York. She’s now 17 with an Etsy shop, website and production and distribution studio where she creates natural beauty and bath products with inspiring messages.
Lawn and gardening services
If you like to play in the dirt and help things grow, you can charge an hourly rate for watering, weeding, planting, pruning and just basic gardening for those neighbors who want a lovely flowerbed or vegetable patch, but don’t have the time for it. Kidsgardening.org and Yard Care Gurus.com are great websites for learning about gardening basics.
Kids’ birthday parties, summer festivals, carnivals, tailgate parties before sporting events—these are all opportunities for artistic kids who want to offer their face painting skills. If you like to draw and have some artistic talent, face painting can be an easy and lucrative skill to learn as well as a fairly portable business to take on-the-go as needed.
Create a podcast
Second-grader Eva Karpman, along with her mom, Olga, hosts the Dream Big podcast, a family-friendly podcast encouraging both kids and adults alike to not only dream big, but to take action toward making their dreams a reality. If you like performing and have a big personality and maybe want to grow up to work in broadcasting, television, or anything entertainment related, this is a great job for you! Learn from Eva and step into the world of podcasts! While this isn’t a guaranteed moneymaker right out of the gate, it’s a great way to channel your energy into something you’re passionate about and learn how to monetize that passion.
If none of these businesses sound like a perfect fit for you, here are a few other quick ideas to explore:
- Help seniors with tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping.
- Wash and detail cars.
- Tutor younger children.
- Hold weekend yard sales (a good time to break out the beverages and baked goods, as well).
- Help throw birthday parties for kids (you could blow up balloons, decorate, make and decorate cupcakes, send out invitations, and more).
- Babysit. While you might not be old enough to stay home alone with younger children, you can help entertain other kids for stay-at-home or work-from-home parents.
- Take pictures and videos at parties (all you need is use of a smartphone, a good eye, and basic editing skills).
- Move garbage cans on trash and recycling pick-up days.
- Design websites or manage social media for family members and friends.
- Teach younger children skills—athletic, artistic, academic, linguistic, technical, or anything else you can teach.
For more inspiration, take a look at these girl CEOs who are running their own businesses and having a blast.
The Starter Squad
By: Brian Weisdeld/Nicole C Kear
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Five winners will each receive a copy of The Startup Squad (Brian Weisfeld & Nicole C Kear) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
I love the cover. It will grab my daughter's attention. This sounds like a much needed story about girls and business.
I love the fun and bright cover. This book sounds fun and important for preteens/kids who want to gain independence and earn some cash too.