BY GUEST BLOGGERS: ROHIT AND SIDHARTH SRINIVASIN, LEMONADE DAY PARTICIPANTS AND FOUNDERS OF TRASHBOTS
Gen Z largely wants to work for themselves: about 41% aim to become entrepreneurs.
Source: Research collected from a host of sources by OnlineSchoolsCenter.com.
Foreward by Debbie Nazarian, Lemonade Day National Director
Entrepreneur.com posted a brief article on cultivating emotional intelligence that looks at Gen Z’s goals surrounding money, work and legacy. The article reinforces what we at Lemonade Day already know: kids have an entrepreneurial spirit and to keep that spirit alive, they require constant education and mentorship on financial literacy coupled with entrepreneurial experiences. With the right resources and educators/mentors, we can further empower kids with life skills that will improve their personal and financial wellness.
In this week’s blog, I want to introduce you to Rohit and Sidharth Srinivasin. They participated in Lemonade Day in May 2009 when they were 8 and 6 years old, respectively. They thought it would be a fun way to learn about having a small business while making lemonade (which everyone loves!) Today, they are 20 and 18, respectively, and run their own business, Trashbots. I could not be more proud of these fine young men! They credit the experience and the lessons they learned through Lemonade Day for the success they and their company are achieving now.
Rohit and Sidharth got the idea to start their Austin, Texas-based business, Trashbots, after visiting an orphanage in India in 2013. Trashbots develops low-cost science and engineering robotics kits for kids around the world that enable them to develop problem-solving skills and enhance their creativity by building robots made according to a structured curriculum blended with an artistic twist: the kids make their robots from trash and other discarded materials that the students find in their own environment. The boys are solid role models for youth entrepreneurship, have earned many accolades including the SXSW Edu Student Startup competition, been profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine, and invited to be TEDxYouth presenters. They challenge those contemplating entrepreneurial ventures to be unique, be optimistic, be socially responsible, and be inspired. I need to say it again…I’m so very proud of them!
In Their Own Words: Rohit and Sidharth Srinivasin
What lessons or principles did you learn through Lemonade Day?
We learned three main things that can assist in being successful as a business:
Why did you want to start your own business? Did you find an investor? How many employees do you have?
Trashbots develops an affordable STEM education platform for students K-12 that has a robotics kit, block-coding app, and more than 70 hours of lessons. From being students in this era of modern education and from teaching at schools and orphanages around the world for about six years, we had a unique appreciation for the problem. We initially ran a crowdfunding campaign ($30K) to support our manufacturing upfront costs. We've raised about $300K so far from a Venture Capital firm and many angel investors. We run the whole company along with a Chief Revenue Officer, Head of Content Development, Software Engineer, and a team of content developers.
Note from Debbie: Last year, we presented a series of videos where our Lemonade Day entrepreneurs explained the Lemonade Day principles. Rohit and Sidharth explained funding, developing business partnerships, and understanding market demand in these videos.
What is the best part about running your own business?
The best part about running our own business is having the ability to make a difference. One of the most gratifying moments to see is when a student picks up a Trashbots kit and just gets pulled in by how engaging it is. To be able to make that impact on a global scale is the best part of running a business.
What is the hardest part about running your business?
When you're a founder of a company, you must be queued into everything that is happening. Because of that, we have had to learn about so many different areas that we were green about before. This is one of the most amazing parts of having a startup but can be tough at times!
Do you have any advice or secrets to your success that you’d like to share with other kids?
The most important thing is to find a problem that you're passionate about building a solution for. With that drive, we found mentors who could guide us in the right direction to fulfill this passion.
What’s next for Trashbots?
We plan to scale Trashbots into more schools and districts this year. 2020 was our first year of sales and allowed us to seed Trashbots in 35+ schools. We will use this as a launchpad to further scale and support our existing customers.
Why is STEM/STEAM education important for kids today?
STEM/STEAM education has been seen as an avenue for students to express and develop students’ creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. We hope to teach students these soft skills and inspire them toward STEM careers through Trashbots.
How has STEM/STEAM education changed since you first started?
We believe awareness around the importance of STEM/STEAM education has increased; however, current day STEM education is largely unaffordable, inaccessible, and generally constraining in terms of things one can do with it. Due to this importance, schools and districts are still trying to deliver STEM education despite the unpredictability of the pandemic. The difference between what we're offering, and other existing platforms is our importance on accessibility and blending digital/physical elements.
A Few Last Words From Debbie
To see these young men achieving their dreams doing what they love to do all while helping others is truly inspiring and heartwarming. They will certainly leave their legacy in this world.
By the time students reach middle school, they can understand complex economic concepts but lack money management skills to navigate toward a successful future. We all need to support the success of young people while inspiring the next generation of future business owners, scientists and engineers, teachers, non-profit leaders, artists, bankers and financial investors, or anything else they dream to become.
Registrations are now open at Lemonade Day cities across North America. Visit https://www.lemonadeday.org/find-your-city for more information.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share this blog with others and share my contact information, firstname.lastname@example.org with anyone who would like to know how to help us provide our program to more children and youth or start Lemonade Day in a new city!