MONEY-SMART KIDS


Creative Summer Jobs

Janet Bodnar

Help your kids battle boredom this summer by encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit.



Last week I told part one of the inspirational tale of 10-year-old Amanda Wilcox, who created a board game called Pandarama to raise money for the Giant Panda Conservation Fund at the National Zoo.

With a helping hand from her mother, Melynda (a former Kiplinger's colleague), Amanda was able to produce the game and sell it to friends and family members. What started as a summer project became a lesson in entrepreneurship.

But little did Amanda (and Melynda) know just how successful the project would be and that the game would take an unexpected twist.

Melynda paid $45 to copyright Pandarama, but she balked at paying $325 for a trademark registration because she figured Amanda might lose interest.

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What she hadn't reckoned on was Pandarama being featured in the Washington Post. Sales immediately picked up. Mom decided to go ahead with the trademark -- only to discover that Hasbro had just filed an application to trademark the name "Pandarama" for a toy that was under development.

Doing a bit of legal research, Melynda learned that because Amanda had already been selling her game (and had raised about $500), it wasn't unreasonable to request that Hasbro withdraw its application. That's just what the Wilcoxes did.

Hasbro replied within a few weeks, proposing an agreement that gives Amanda limited rights to produce up to 500 copies of Pandarama each year. Hasbro also offered to make a contribution to the panda fund. The Wilcoxes suggested $5,000.

Hasbro agreed, and everyone was satisfied. "Money was less important than Amanda getting to see that problems could be solved productively," says her mother. "She just wanted to keep making her game."

Battling boredom

Not every entrepreneurial venture will be get this far. But all kids need basic input from their parents, even if it's just to suggest how bored 11- and 12-year-olds can earn money over the summer. (One clueless young job-seeker sent me the following e-mail: "I'm tired of sitting on my tail all day.")

Need some ideas? How about suggesting that your kids haul recycling bins to the curb and back, or collect mail and water plants for vacationing neighbors? Maybe your child could run a dinnertime play group for kids in the neighborhood to give their mothers time to prepare dinner?

Like Amanda, many youngsters may be even more creative on their own. All they need is advice from Mom and Dad about how to follow through on their inspirations (find guidance for kid entrepreneurs at www.sba.gov/teens and www.youngbiz.com).

Amanda gives her mom full credit for "doing the complicated stuff." But it was a team effort, and, says Amanda, "I thought up the idea."



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