Entrepreneurs at Yennadon elementary

Maple Ridge students learning about the challenges of running a business.

Beau Benedictson with examples of “Beau’s Sports Medal Hanger.”

Beau Benedictson with examples of “Beau’s Sports Medal Hanger.”

Beau Benedictson knows medals.

He has a drawer full of them, and a head full of great memories, all in just a few years of playing minor hockey and baseball.

He wasn’t sure what to do with them all – tangled up and out of view – until his Grade 5 teacher at Yennadon elementary, Catherine McIntosh, assigned the class a project.

As part of the Maple Ridge school’s annual entrepreneurial fair, students have to develop a product along with a business plan – to produce, market and, eventually, sell.

Beau talked to his grandmother, Terri Marlow, about what type of product he should make. She counseled him to follow the advice of the hosts on the TV show Shark Tank – find a problem, develop a solution.

Beau was quick to identify the problem with his medals – he needed a way to display them.

Again in conversation with his grandmother, a long-time crafter, they came up with “Beau’s Sports Medal Hanger.”

The concept is simple, and inexpensive. Images of sports equipment – cleats and skates, soccer balls and baseballs – are spray-painted on wooden cutouts matching each shape, and tacks are embedded around them from which to hang medals. On the back of each one is a strip of sticky tape to fasten to walls, or doors.

Beau spent most of his spring break constructing 50 such medal hangers – drawing and painting, sanding and gluing – and is working on more, which he plans to sell for $3 to $5 each at the school’s entrepreneurial fair in June.

He came up with the sale price after conducting surveys among his peers, to gauge interest, and factoring in the cost of his supplies, then graphing the information as part of his business plan.

He would have to sell 10 to make back the money spent on supplies. And as part of the project, all students are required to donate a part of their earnings to a charity.

“Like the SPCA,” Beau said.

They also have to payback loans for money borrowed – from parents or grandparents – to start their projects, and put away some for savings.

Mrs. McIntosh started the entrepreneurial fair five or six years ago as a way to teach students how to manage money.

“Kids today don’t save money. They go to the corner store and buy candy,” she said.

They don’t see or handle money as often as past generations; their parents pay for most everything with plastic. Mrs. McIntosh wants the students to know there is not an endless supply of money, as well as how to make it.

The record for sales at the school is $540 – for multiple units of a “marshmallow blaster.”

Beau isn’t aiming that high, but if he sells out, his contact information for new orders is on the back of each medal hanger.

And if he doesn’t sell all of them, he’ll have something on which to show his future success.