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Lemonade Stands Teach Lessons in Entrepreneurship

The lemonade business has never been so cutthroat.

Eight lemonade stands set up shop around the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall Thursday. The preteens and teenagers running the stands brandished handwritten signs and chased down would-be customers, all looking to peddle their cold beverages and sweet treats.

While making money was the name of the game, the lemonade stands were also a learning experience for students of The University of Iowa’s Jacobson Entrepreneurship Academy, a weeklong day camp for youngsters from the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas and beyond.

“Our goal is to have an educational camp that is super fun,” said Dawn Bowlus, director of the Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship.

During the camp, the students learn lessons on how to become successful business owners. The lemonade project offered lessons on selecting and purchasing inventory, setting prices and choosing an ideal location—all things successful businesses must consider.

“It gives them the chance to go out and do it and have the fun of running a business,” Bowlus said.

Emmett Adamson, 12, of Iowa City, was one of the owner-operators of Team Lemon. Adamson said his group’s strategy was to “stay mobile” and slash prices, giving customers the idea they’re saving money.

Adamson said the project has been educational.

“It’s always better to be cheaper and do more sales over being expensive and doing less sales,” he said.

Hannah Grosvenor, 13, of Okoboji, said her team took a different strategy: offer a unique product.

“We got iced tea instead of lemonade for people who are diabetic and can’t have sugar,” she said.

Grosvenor, who is returning to the camp for a second year, said it’s been useful to her. After last year’s camp, Grosvenor started her own business, Lane Line Hand-tied Fishing Flies, which specializes in fishing flies for women. Grosvenor said she returned to the camp to get a few more pointers.

“I liked what I learned,” she said.

Following the hour-long sales competition, the teams returned to class to discuss what worked and what didn’t, Bowlus said.

Writer: Lee Hermiston

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