We write a lot here at 3DPrint.com about young entrepreneurs, but twelve-year-old Rowan Pritchard may be the youngest businessman we’ve ever encountered in the 3D printing world. The California boy recently completed fifth grade at Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley, and while he has several years before he has to start thinking about summer jobs, he’s decided to spend his summer vacation launching his own business.
It’s not a lemonade stand, either. Three years ago, Rowan’s uncle took him to a Maker Faire in San Rafael, where he had his first encounter with a 3D printer. Drawn by the lights and sounds coming from a row of printers in one of the exhibition halls, Rowan went to investigate, and by the time he left the faire, 3D printing was his new obsession.
“I went home and did a little bit of research and started getting more and more into it and learning more about it and how it can improve people’s lives and what it does for people,” he said.
He asked his parents for a 3D printer, and at first they laughed, but as they watched their son continue to tirelessly research the technology online every day when he came home from school, they realized that his interest might be more than a passing twelve-year-old phase. Seeing the potential for a learning opportunity, Rowan’s father, Scott, took his son aside and introduced him to the concept of a GoFundMe. Not only could he raise the money to buy a 3D printer, but he could build a business around it. The boy was thrilled with the idea.
“We had him write his own message, we talked about the donors being investors. It was a great opportunity to teach him how to run a business,” Scott Pritchard said.“You’re going to have to have investors and thank them when they contribute and follow up with them on your goal. And when you get there, you’re going to have to continue to speak to them about the progress.”
So far, Rowan has shown himself to have a true startup mentality. Two months into his GoFundMe campaign, he has raised over $2,500 of his $3,300 goal. He plans to use the money he raises to buy not just a 3D printer but all the other equipment he needs to set up a home 3D printing lab, such as a scanner, monitor, and a recycler for scrap material. Once that’s done, he intends to set up a website where people can order custom 3D printed items such as tools, toys, smartphone cases, and replacement parts for gadgets such as quadcopters.
“You name it, I will make it!” he said.
Rowan’s parents also taught him that giving back to the community should be a priority for any successful businessperson, so he plans to donate 10% of his profits to his school and to local youth charities such as Social Advocates for Youth and Mentor Me, whose executive director, Deb Dalton, helped him come up with the idea of teaching a class at the facility for other kids to learn about 3D printing.
“I have learned that it is important to support others around me. To do that I am going to donate 10% of my profit to my school and charities that support kids in my community (like Social Advocates for Youth and MentorMe Petaluma). I am also hoping to teach a class to kids showing them how to use the software and use these tools themselves. It would be great if one day I could give them a printer from my business,” he explained. “I would like to start this business by summer since I will have lots of time, so I am hoping you can help me this spring.”
Rowan started the GoFundMe campaign in April, hoping that he would be able to raise the money by summertime so he could use his summer vacation to get the business off the ground. His initiative, determination and sense of social responsibility go far beyond that of many adults, let alone children; if you’d like to help him reach his financial goal, you can donate to his campaign here. Discuss further over in the GoFundMe for 3D Printer forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: Petaluma 360]