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Want to Light a Fire Under Kids? Foster Any Entrepreneurial Spark

05/11/2015 05:20 EDT | Updated 05/11/2016 05:59 EDT
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Boy (6-8) selling lemonade from sidewalk stand

"You can't start a fire. You can't start a fire without a spark.

This gun's for hire even if we're just dancing in the dark."

Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing in the Dark"

When our kids show talent (spark) or innovation we need to nurture and foster it. We need to encourage and inspire them. Sometimes those inspirations come in unforeseen ways and from unlikely of places. One of those places is a startup I recently met in Winnipeg but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself so let's return to the "Boss."

The first music I purchased was a cassette tape in 1984 for my Sony Walkman was Bruce Springsteen's epic Born in the USA. My favorite song on it was "Dancing in the Dark" and the aforementioned lyric has stuck in my head until today.

Fast forward to the age of iTunes and that song still remains. Recently, some young ladies (who wish to be anonymous) raised money for a global charity that helps children globally battling Type 1 Diabetes. They did this so they could attend their first ever We Day event in Montreal, Quebec (part of Free The Children) called Unis pour l'action.

These two young ladies painted 60 works of art (each taking at a few hours to create) and raised over $720 in only six weeks. It was incredible and inspiring watching them learn to be innovators at a time when there is more awareness of issues regarding gender equality and opportunity in the workplace.

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They showed initiative and entrepreneurial drive to raised funds for WeDay. I then wondered what could they both aspire to be when they were older? Their mothers (successful women in their own right) are definitely a good place to start.

In fact, We Day events have been held globally inspiring numerous young girls and boys to drive change for global social-good since 1997. Back in 2010 a 12-year-old boy named Mark Mannarn attended a Toronto WeDay event and four years later the charity he founded called Minor Hockey Fights Cancer has raised over $1,000,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society with the 2015 event just held on May 9, 2015 in Toronto.

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And outside these kids' homes, rather than follow famous names often profiled within the media, I came across a different leader who has shown some impressive leadership traits. Recently, while on business I met the Lumo Play team at their Winnipeg office and they demonstrated their product.

These humble Canadian entrepreneurs bootstrapped and launched a start-up which isn't extremely surprising as Canada has been an innovative hub for products from the Avro Arrow to the Blackberry.

But during my career in technology to date, there has only been one other time I've been impressed by the first generation of a product like the Lumo projector. And that was when I was working at Apple and we had launched the first iPhone in Canada.

One of the Lumo Co-Founders, Meghan Athavale, is an inspiring entrepreneur who is respected for her work with interactive toy design, video mapping and projections. This single mother is working within a tech space that isn't always known for creating a welcome work environment for women.

That is why the determination and focus of Meghan is worth talking about because this is precisely the kind of 'fire' you want to see after a 'spark' has been fostered at a young age.

The Lumo team is in the midst of trying to raise money from an Indiegogo campaign to take their incredible prototype (which I've seen with my own eyes) into mainstream production. With less than two weeks to go they have already raised over $60,698 of their $80,000 total funding goal.

Very soon children and adults will be dancing in the dark with these projectors. But it takes a collective effort to encourage our young girls that the spark of entrepreneurship resides within them and it opens up a whole world of possibility.

Young entrepreneurs must be encouraged they can do anything that they set their minds to. Be it selling paintings or developing innovative technological products. The only way we can light a fire in our kids is by fostering a spark of entrepreneurship.

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