WOLFVILLE – At just 12 years old, Solomon Caplan is mastering the art of delivering a persuasive business pitch.
“There’s always a good story involved and you kind of take the story and, through the story, try to explain the different aspects of your pitch,” explained Solomon, using the same matter-of-fact manner he exudes in a presentation.
“You say what the problem you’re trying to solve is, how you’re solving it and why you’re different from the competition.”
The Evangeline Middle School student is proving to be somewhat of an entrepreneurial whiz kid within the community. In March alone, Solomon’s to-do list included delivering a formal presentation to the municipal council serving the County of Kings and going head-to-head against the likes of university students in semi-annual Start It Up! business ideation competitions at the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre.
Making a pitch to council
He admits he often feels nervous before a presentation, but he manages to push past the nerves to appear calm and collected when all eyes are on him.
“Each time it gets a little better,” he said.
The pre-teen proudly introduced himself to Kings County’s elected officials as a youth entrepreneur and software developer during his recent presentation to council. He was there to pitch KinderPrise, a micro loan program that would connect social investors in the community with youth entrepreneurs interested in building a business.
“It was kind of scary at first knowing that I was presenting to the council, but I thought it went really well,” he said.
To Solomon’s delight, council agreed to refer him to a business development officer with the county.
“I hope it leads to an investment that can get our business started,” he said, adding that he’d like to work with his father to get KinderPrise going.
KinderPrise was built around the premise that many of the business moguls of today experimented with early childhood entrepreneurial endeavours, such as lemonade stands, in the past.
Solomon’s father, Mike Caplan, worked alongside his son to review industry research and develop the idea for KinderPrise during a Start It Up! competition in November.
“It’s an exciting moment for any parent to see their child nailing a presentation in the adult world and being excited by this idea that he and I developed,” said Mike, who proudly watched Solomon deliver business pitches to Kings County’s council and industry professionals serving as
Start It Up! judges.
A $3,500 win
Solomon recently won $3,500 as a result of collaborating with 13-year-old Middleton Regional High School student Nathaniel Frederick at a Start It Up! showdown hosted March 23-24. The pair was tasked with coming up with a solution for youth boredom.
They found research that showed how map-based story games are popular in the UK, and reflected on the Pokemon GO craze of 2016. They decided to pitch Aniaphobia, a local map-based story game built around a digital program capable of delivering content for quests to mobile devices.
The map-holders would learn about local history, flora, and fauna in the quests to earn points by solving puzzles.
“It was about creating trails, we called them expeditions, for kids to go on to discover their communities and cure boredom,” said Solomon.
“We had to think of a way to solve boredom and we thought we could gameify boredom.”
Mike, a software developer involved with the youth engagement programming offered through Refresh Annapolis Valley, was thrilled to see his son putting his own working knowledge of computer science to practical use in the competition.
“They won $3,500, which is kid eyes is like a million dollars,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s a great way for him to take on big-picture thinking and looking at everyday problems. That type of thinking is really rich and really leads one down this entrepreneurial pathway… and I love to see kids playing with ideas to try and see if they work, and if they can make them happen.”
Solomon is keen to share his interest in software development with other kids. He’s been teaching his peers about computer science for two years as a mentor with Refresh Annapolis Valley.
“I was actually surprised by how fun it was and how much I liked it,” he said, adding that kids around his age are often excited to learn how to create games, make digital art or tell digital stories.
“I’ve been trying to teach as many kids as I can.”