Teenager Proves You’re Never Too Young To Start a Business
Mikaila Ulmer is only 13 years-old, and the founder of Me & the Bees Lemonade - a family business that specialises in producing and selling freshly squeezed lemonade , in a mixture of Texas wildflower honey, flaxseed and mint.
Mikaila started her lemonade business in 2009 when she was just 4-years old.
Encouraged by her family to participate in a Children’s business competition, she first needed a product to showcase. And so her family whipped out a 1940’s cookbook (sent by her Great Granny Helen from South Carolina), which included special recipe for Flaxseed Lemonade.
Using Great Granny Helen’s recipe, she me lemonade sweetened with local honey (which was much healthier). ad
She started off with a lemonade stand for the first three years, during which she kept on selling out. Due a huge increase in demand, she decided to expand and got her lemonade into her first pizza store.
Over time, BeeSweet Lemonade started getting sold out at entrepreneurial events as well. The business was growing so rapidly that Mikaila and her family struggled to meet demand.
And so they they turned to reality TV show, ‘Shark Tank' for help.
At the sixth season of the Shark Tank - America's biggest talent hunt for exceptional entrepreneurs - Mikaila pitched her product and the expansion idea for BeeSweet. The little girl impressed the sharks (judges) so much that fashion mogul, Daymond John, invested $60,000 in BeeSweet for a 25% stake.
Since then there has been no looking back for BeeSweet. Soon, it was approached by Whole Foods, one of the largest health food grocery chains on the planet, and was able to secure a deal to place Ulmer’s lemonade in 55 Whole Foods stores in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Florida, as well.
She also received a low-interest “local producer loan” from Whole Foods, which helped her to expand beyond the lemonade’s original flavour and experiment with other versions. Although, the Terms weren’t disclosed, but its loans run up to $100,000!
“An Entrepreneur is someone who finds little difference between a PROBLEM and OPPORTUNITY, and turns both to their advantage.”
While in the founding stage of her business, Mikaila got stung by stung by a bee, twice.
But, to turn her fears into an opportunity, her parents encouraged her to do some research on bees.
While at it, Mikaila learnt how important bees were to an ecosystem - and to her surprise, she began to get fascinated with this insect that not only contributed more than $15 billion to the US agricultural economy in one year, but were in danger of extinction due to a disease called CCD [Colony Collapse Disorder]. These facts - and the anxiety to support the sustainability of bee colonies - convinced the young researcher to found BeeSweet Lemonade.
Today, she donates more than 10% of the profits from the sale of her business to organisations which help save the bees. These include: Heifer International, Sustainable Food Center of Austin and Texas Beekeepers Association.
Consumers of BeeSweet Lemonade love the idea that her lemonade is made from locally-sourced and natural ingredients, and what keeps them loyal to her brand is that some portions of the profits are being donated to support organisations who work to save the honeybees.
Ask Mikaila for an entrepreneurial piece of advice, and she tells you:
“An entrepreneur is someone who finds little difference between a problem and opportunity, and turns both to their advantage”
"You need to know your numbers! Understand what profit is! Create a budget and estimate your income!"
"Transform life experiences into opportunities"
In addition to being a well-known speaker, and being featured as a panelist at several conferences, Mikaila has been featured in Oprah magazine, has her own YouTube channel, and is also the receiver of numerous awards.