Kids can be incredibly creative and inventive – and some even see their extensive ideas develop into amazing business opportunities as well.

These children turned their frustrations, mistakes and brilliance into commercial successes, businesses, and even life-long careers. Their stories are sure to inspire anyone going into the business world, where creativity and imagination are often a bonus, if not necessary.

Abbey Fleck (Age 8) – Makin’ Bacon

Young entrepreneur Abbey Fleck was only eight years old when inspiration struck. She and her dad had just finished cooking bacon, only to discover that there weren’t any paper towels to soak up the fat. Much to Fleck’s mother’s dismay, the pair improvised and used the classified section of a newspaper instead. Suddenly, Fleck had an idea: “Why not hang the bacon up while it cooks?” Not only would this render paper towels unnecessary, but it would also make the bacon healthier.

In 1993, after Fleck and her dad had spent some time experimenting, the duo brought forth a microwave-safe dish with three upright bars on which to hang bacon on while it cooked. They patented their idea a year later and eventually struck a distribution deal with Walmart. Fleck’s grandfather took out a loan on his farm to pay for the first 100,000 dishes – but it seems to have been worth it. In 2002, reported that the new company was earning more than $1 million in royalties annually, and Makin’ Bacon dishes are still sold at Walmart as well as Target.



George Nissen (Age 16) – Trampoline

In 1930, at age 16, George Nissen came up with an idea that would revolutionize acrobatics: the trampoline. After seeing trapeze artists finish their routines by dropping into a safety net below, Nissen thought it would be even more exciting if they could somehow keep bouncing around – so he turned his parents’ garage into a workshop and got cracking. His invention consisted of a metal frame with canvas stretched over it, which he christened the “bouncing rig.”

While studying a business degree at the University of Iowa, Nissen continued to perfect his contraption, replacing the canvas with nylon to increase the bounce. He changed the name to “trampoline”, adding an “e” to the Spanish word for “diving board”, and registered it as a trademark. “There was no market for it because nobody has ever seen one,” said Nissen. “I had to demonstrate its worth. And that was always my forte. I like to make new things and then market them.” The late inventor spent his life traveling the world doing trampoline demonstrations and promoting both his invention and the sport. At the age of 92, he could still do a headstand.

Frank Epperson (Age 11) – Popsicle

On a winter’s night in 1905, the temperature in San Francisco had fallen to a record low, by chance freezing a concoction that 11-year-old Frank Epperson had left out on the porch. As the story goes, Epperson mixed soda water powder and water in a glass and then left the stirring stick in the mixture. After a night out in the cold, the mixture had frozen solid – and the accidental inventor had created the world’s first Popsicle.

Epperson didn’t do anything more with his invention until 1922, when he gave out the treat at a fireman’s ball. Everyone loved it so much that he patented his idea under the name “Eppsicle.” However, he changed the name after his children started calling the treat a “Popsicle.” Epperson sold on the rights to the Popsicle brand name to New York’s Joe Lowe Company in 1925. Three years later, Popsicle sales had topped 60 million, bringing Epperson royalties on each sale.

Chester Greenwood (Age 15) – Earmuffs

While he was 15 years old, Chester Greenwood’s ears got painfully cold one day when he was ice skating in his hometown of Farmington, Maine. Although he tried wrapping a scarf around his head, it simply didn’t do the trick – so he set out to find a better solution to the problem. Greenwood made a wire frame and asked his grandmother to sew beaver skin pads to it,  creating the world’s first earmuffs.

In 1877, at age 19, Greenwood patented his invention. He went on to perfect and manufacture the ear protectors in a local Farmington factory, eventually selling his earmuffs to soldiers during the First World War. By the time he died in 1937, he had made a veritable fortune, selling as many as 400,000 pairs in a single year. What’s more, earmuffs weren’t Greenwood’s only invention; in fact, he took out more than 100 patents in his life.


Robert Patch (Age 6) – Toy trucks

One of the very youngest inventors was Robert Patch, who was granted the patent for the toy truck when he was just six years old, back in 1963. He built his prototype out of bottle caps and cardboard, and his invention was meant to be taken apart and refashioned into different types of trucks, like a very early Transformer.




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