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Thanh Tran

Thanh Tran doesn’t just see the future in the eyes of the children today. He sees the visions of aspiring entrepreneurs.

That's why the serial entrepreneur launched his own company focusing on entrepreneurship education for adolescents, Kidpreneur. The idea behind the 2-month-old venture is to plant the entrepreneurial seed in the minds of tweens by getting them to launch their own businesses and making money.

"We want to get the kids to a point where they don’t only get their ideas to reality but be successful at it," Tran says. "They can always use that same methodology to be successful at something else."

Tran is a relatively new father himself. The Northville resident has two young children, ages 7- and 5-years-old. He started out fatherhood without a big plan on how to raise his kids when his oldest child was born.

"I was petrified," Tran says. "I didn’t know how to raise my son at that time. I talked to some friends about being a father and the reality is nobody knows. You just have to go with the flow. You do what your father did with you."

Tran decided to go a different route. Where his father focused on academics, Tran encourage his kids to play sports and take up music. They now play tennis and the piano. He also got them into entrepreneurship, figuring out the best way to get them to earn their own money. That inspired him to turn that exercise into Kidpreneur.

The Northville-based business, it calls the WaterWheel Centre home, hosts 9-week classes for kids between the ages of 9- and 13-year-old. There they can learn how to start a business, how to incorporate technology and even how to build their own mobile app. They can also learn how to start a good old-fashioned business.

One young lady started her own dog-walking business, figuring out a small business plan to help set her apart from her competition. "She not only walks them for 20 minutes and but gives them treats and cleans up after them," Tran says. "She came up with it on her own and used the lean startup methodology."

Another young lady is working to make a candy shop. She wants to make the connection between kids and candy again that people often reminisce about with the help of her aunt who has been working on bakeries for years. "Her idea is to recreate that old nostalgic views of kids and candy," Tran says.

Tran hopes these experiences help empower the students to pursue their passions and turn them into the business. He also hopes it helps them get the inevitable failures out of the way in a world where a 50-percent survival rate for new businesses is optimistic.

"Hopefully by late high school or college they have mastered the art of entrepreneurship," Tran says. "Then they can take that to the next level."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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