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Jake Madsen is saving up for an iPad, but it's tough when you're 12 and money-making jobs are limited.
He and a friend run an occasional lemonade stand in a park near his home in southwest Omaha — small cup 25 cents, big cup 50 cents, and sometimes brownies for $1. But it's slow going.
So when his father, Paul, clipped out an article from The World-Herald about a business idea contest for children age 7-16 and taped it to the refrigerator, Jake started thinking.
The result was Teddy Shreddy, a mobile paper-shredding business that Jake will propose to Warren Buffett later this month. He is one of five individuals and two teams chosen as finalists from more than 3,000 entries in the “Grow Your Own Business Challenge” conducted by “The Secret Millionaires Club” online cartoon series.
The series features a cartoon Buffett, voiced by the real thing, who explains money, business, investing and other financial concepts to children.
Online voting for the $5,000 grand prize starts Monday and goes through May 14 at smckids.com/vote.
Jake, a sixth-grader at Russel Middle School in Millard, proposes towing a paper shredder in a trailer behind a bicycle around the neighborhood, offering on-the-spot shredding of documents. One of his jobs at home is to shred papers for Paul, an employment recruiter, and his mom, Lisa, an administrative associate at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Some clients might want monthly service, others more often, Jake said. He envisions a regular route and, some day, a team of young people seeking out paper-shredding customers, sort of a small-scale franchise operation.
He's still working on pricing, and he figures he will dispose of the shredded paper in the usual trash at home. Jake picked out the name and company symbol, Theodore Roosevelt, because “Teddy” rhymes with “shreddy.”
Finalists in the contest, which is sponsored by CreditReport.com, receive a trip to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s headquarters city, where they will meet Buffett and explain their ideas. That's a 20-minute drive across town for Jake but a big trip for the other finalists, from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Connecticut and Washington.
Jake, by the way, is the only boy among five individual finalists. The competing ideas: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sheets, Screen Savior, Feel Your World, Shine So Bright, Deals on Wheels, Safety Guard'in and Super Clothes.
To pick the finalists, judges considered uniqueness of concept, depth and description of concept, feasibility of concept execution and other factors.
Jake said his classmates recently heard about his being a finalist in the contest. “They said, ‘Congratulations, that's awesome.' ”
The World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
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