ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM STORIES
Maddie’s Little Ballers (MLB)
During the pandemic in 2020, Maddie Norman created a safe way for kids to have fun during summer break. Maddie’s Little Ballers (MLB) is a camp made to develop children’s fundamental basketball skills for the future.
In our interview, Maddie told us more about her journey as an entrepreneur and managing her business while attending Magnificat High School.
Tell us a little about your journey to entrepreneurship.
Maddie’s Little Ballers is a small business basketball camp that was created during the COVID summer months of 2020. It is targeted for kids in grades K-4 to work on fundamental skills. Some include ball handling, shooting, footwork, basic form, and competition drills. The clinic is run on Maddie’s home basketball court in Cleveland, Ohio. During the hour-long session, campers get real one-on-one experience with Coach Maddie and get the opportunity to socialize with their friends in a small-group session (8 max).
Who helped you get started as an entrepreneur?
I took an entrepreneurship class during my junior year at Magnificat, and it really inspired me to do more associated with business. I figured out that I loved to play basketball from a young age, and during COVID- it was hard to find a job. So, I decided, with the help from my dad, to start a basketball clinic in the comfort of my home.
What impact do you hope to have with your basketball camp?
I hope to walk kids through the fundamental skills of basketball to help them in the future. I also hope to give parents a little time away from their kids to run errands or get things done. The tone of voice that MLB displays is camp leaders who have an expertise, know what they are doing, but also have a playful, educational, and funny side. We want to show customers that leaders (Maddie and Abbey) can teach little kids well, are patient enough, and can also have a little fun and change things on the spot. We want to show the parents a friendly, young teacher who works well with kids and has a positive attitude. Our ability to pivot, adapt, and provide a positive environment for kids and their friends is what sets us ahead of our competitors.
What are you currently doing and what is the future of the business?
The fundamental basketball clinic starts with a quick warm up stretch then jumps right into skills. The campers go through footwork on a ladder, and then split up into two groups. One group is led by Coach Abbey (my sister) focusing on passing and pivoting, while the other is led by Coach Maddie (me) focusing on shooting form. After, the campers move onto team competitions such as dribble tag, pop-shot, relay races, and much more! Both the MLB athletes and parents get some separation time to catch up with their friends or get some work/ errands done. The cost is $90 for two weeks or $45 for one week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Overall, I think this price is reasonable for the current time, but I am working to get more kids involved through social media. I took an intro-to social media marketing as a CCP class this past year and learned some vital tips as an entrepreneur. I learned that I could quickly spread my small MLB business by creating a twitter account with dates of upcoming camps and flyers. I could also create a TikTok account highlighting some campers working on their skills in hype videos reviewing the camp and the kids working hard throughout them.
The future of the business is to post on multiple platforms each day throughout the week to stay active, provide updates, or promote the camp.
What takeaways did you have from participating in the thinkBIG! Challenge?
I learned about strict target audiences along with influencer plans, and filters. Facebook can best meet the challenge of gaining new followers and can get the best reach of the targeted audiences. It works best because it allows parents of grade schools such as Holy Trinity, Bay Village, Avon, and Avon Lake to be contacted because we can post on the Facebook page and get immediate DM’s back. It also allows parents to see who liked the post so that they can sign their kids up with their friends. Facebook is skewed to a younger audience and isn’t as professional as LinkedIn. We would want to display a young, fun tone of voice that wouldn’t fit with other social media networks. Instagram and Twitter work well for hype-videos and date updates, but Facebook does the best in promoting MLB overall.
Do you find value in using an entrepreneurial mindset in other settings besides your business?
Yes, I have found it helpful in other things I do when I hangout with friends, get involved in group projects, and constantly have a mind censored to helping others. Last year in school, my group in entrepreneurship created an app to help with saving for the future. It was called “PocketSmart” and we really took all steps to ensure that teens like us aren’t overpaying for subscriptions that we forgot about, trusting unreliable websites, and being careless with our money.
What advice do you have for other students who are interested in starting a business or developing an idea?
I would make sure that those interested in starting a business/ developing an idea do research beforehand. Even though you could think your business is “new” and the best option, there could be many ideas similar to it already out there. I would also know your target audience, goals for the company, and mission as a business. After that, I would honestly just go for it and put all of your thoughts, energy, and character into your work.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I face is the fact that my camp isn’t a known brand. There are some well-known basketball camps in the area that have different ages and areas. Two in particular include USSCBasketball by the Nike Basketball Camps and DukeBBallCamp. These basketball camps also teach conditioning, ball-handling, shooting, and footwork. They have a good reputation in providing quality products and services. Brands such as these could be a possible source of competition, for me, in the future. However, since my camp still needs to get out there a little bit more, and due to the fact that these two camps are for older kids, I should be fine in the future. I plan to overcome my challenges of reaching more audiences by creating social media accounts.
Do you have any advice for other students who are preparing to give their first business pitch?
I would tell students giving their first business pitch to stay confident, and be ready to answer questions on the fly. A tip is to pitch to friends or family around you, and have them fire questions your way so you are prepared.
How can people find out more about your business?
There are currently no social media accounts associated with MLB at the current time because I have found all of my clients through Facebook (grade-school) groups. I am looking forward to implementing some in the future including on Twitter and TikTok. Let me know if you have a child interested in MLB from Northeast, Ohio. I would love to add them to one of our current camp rosters, or create a new one later this summer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM @nmaddie3 on twitter for more information.