ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM STORIES
From Lemonade to Landscaping
Kaden Ullom and Cooper Lyons, seniors at Bay High School, competed on March 2, 2021 at the thinkBIG! Summit where they pitched, Scaper, their innovative solution which connects homeowners to high school and college landscapers. Individually, they own and operate their own landscaping companies, giving them firsthand knowledge of the struggles many homeowners face when managing a landscaping project. As busy season is nearing, the two have decided to pause their development efforts for Scaper and focus on running their landscaping businesses.
We spoke with both Kaden and Cooper about their experiences being founders and what they have learned from being young entrepreneurs.
Founder of Bay Mulching Co.
Founder of Lake Erie Landscaping
Tell us a little about your journey to entrepreneurship.
Kaden: I have had an entrepreneurial drive my entire life. Starting with lemonade stands in elementary school, selling Pokémon cards in middle school, selling jewelry online my freshman year, to today with my landscaping company. The process of procuring an idea and bringing it to reality with all the challenges in between, will never cease to keep me entertained. Entrepreneurship has and will always amaze me.
Cooper: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I started with the basic lemonade stand, but soon progressed to ventures like making my own postcards, creating a clothing brand (which unfortunately failed), basketball training, and eventually landscaping. It just lights me up.
Who helped you get started as an entrepreneur?
K: I have put in the long hours, creative contribution, and dealt with the extreme stress that comes along with entrepreneurship, but I couldn’t do it without the amazing support system and guidance of my family. My father has specifically inspired me as he is a small business owner himself and the hardest-working individual I have ever met. I hope to have even half of his work ethic.
C: My parents have been a massive piece of helping me get started as an entrepreneur. My mom owns Inner Bliss Yoga studios, so I have seen the inner workings of a small business since a young age. Both my mom and my dad always support my ventures.
What takeaways did you have from participating in the thinkBIG! Challenge?
K: The thinkBIG! Challenge exposed me to so many bright young minds in Northeast Ohio. It is truly inspiring to see so many highly driven people my age creating their own unique paths towards success.
C: I learned the valuable process of creating an executive business plan as well as a pitch deck. It also helped me hone my presentation skills and discover what aspects of a business investors care about the most.
Do you find value in using an entrepreneurial mindset in other settings besides your business?
K: I find value in using the leadership aspect of entrepreneurship in settings outside of business. Managing several employees and dealing with clients, I feel that I have developed strong interpersonal skills, social-awareness, and leadership prowess. This is not only applicable to any situation in life, but advantageous. You’ll have greater ability to inspire and motivate others and be a strong candidate for whatever goal you are working to obtain.
C: I strongly agree that there is value in using an entrepreneurial mindset in life and not just business. I think of this mindset as a model of thinking that gives you the tools to overcome challenges with decisive actions. It also manifests a constant need to improve your skills, learn from your mistakes, and take action to implement your ideas. This can be applied to all problems we face in life.
What advice do you have for other students who are interested in starting a business or developing an idea?
K: This is the most common bit of advice, but you have to just go for it. Go chase that idea, spend countless hours working at it, fail and realize it’s okay. Learn from it and go at it again. Nothing in life is a waste of time.
C: This is literally the best time to start a business. You are young and have almost nothing to lose, and COVID has created a plethora of opportunities. The knowledge that you can gain from starting a business is applicable to all facets of life and will set you up for success.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur and how do you overcome them?
K: My biggest advice would be to be careful entering a partnership with a friend as it can be incredibly difficult having business conversations with close friends and relatives.
C: I think one of the biggest challenges I face as an entrepreneur is having to be accountable for all my mistakes. If I order too much mulch or underquote a job, that has a direct impact on how much money I make, due solely to my own error.