Entrepreneurship is a birth defect

I didn’t do a lot of things growing up:

  • Little league
  • College applications
  • Neutrogena face wash

But I did explore commerce.

Below are some projects I started while everyone else smoked weed.

1. Mylar Designs

In college I started a pin-back button merchandise company. The startup equipment and raw materials were $1,000+ and I didn’t have that because I drank too much. So I mocked up a design and sold $5,000 to one customer in a 20 minute meeting, which took 2 emails and 3 days to set up.

I used the check to finance the LLC, open a business checking account, and purchase the equipment and materials. I think ~$2,500 was left over. Cue: profit from nothing.

Read about how I sold it after graduation here.

2. Christmas tree removal

In high school I got grounded a lot. One time during Christmas my car was taken away so I had a girl drive me around (on a date) to distribute flyers for Christmas tree removal.

I got my car back around Christmas and the week following I made several hundred bucks taking neighbors’ trees to a recycling center. They paid upon arrival so gas was covered before I had to fill up.

Get the details here. This also made me a Reddit rockstar here.

3. Selling candy to babies

In middle school I took all the candy canes off my Christmas tree and sold them to classmates. I used that money to buy more and repeat.

See my 2003 edition P&L report here and funny reactions here.

4. Popsicles

In elementary school I made $0.75 – $3 /week allowance, pending my grade. This simply would not finance my Pokémon addiction.

With a couple weeks’ allowance I purchased a 120-pack popsicle kit from the grocery store. You know, the long juice pouches that freeze overnight.

I set up shop at my neighborhood pool, just beside the entrance. I think there was a regulation against selling inside the pool area, raising my barriers to entry significantly.

To offset my lack of visibility I started pitching “Do you want to buy something?” to families as they approached the gate. This garnered all kinds of attention, good and bad.

At 25 cents a pop (pun intended) it took just 8 unit sales to break-even. I can’t remember how much I netted total but it went straight to M&M Toys (now defunct) at Venture Mall (now a mini Spanish Harlem).

If only I knew Pokémon cards were a depreciating asset…

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a decision.