DAVIDSON – Jake Johnson can add winner of the Warren Buffett’s “Secret Millionaires Club” Grow Your Own Business Challenge to his resume.
The Woodlawn School teen beat out all other individual entries in the competition geared toward young entrepreneurs with his startup Beaux Up, offering customizable bowties.
“The whole experience has been so amazing,” Johnson said. “I can now really get the business started and use the prize money to get pointed in the right direction. It’s still sinking in that I won.”
Five individuals and three team finalists out of the more than 4,000 entries faced a panel of judges, including Buffett, President of the National PTA Otha Thornton and President of 4-H Jennifer Sirangelo, May 19 in Omaha, Neb. They judged on uniqueness of ideas, depth and description and feasibility of execution. Johnson and the team winner from Seattle received $5,000 toward their businesses and 10 shares of Berkshire Hathaway B Stock.
Johnson said the prize money will be used for website development, where the majority of the business will take place, and increasing inventory. He also has promised 10 percent of the prize money to the Ada Jenkins Center and 24 percent of every bowtie sale.
Johnson’s idea entails making interchangeable bowtie halves of different materials and linking them with a patent-pending clip to offer something different and “redefine the gentleman.”
“It was based on creativity, his presentation, his business plan – it was a complete package,” Judy Klym, marketing and public relations director at By Kids For Kids, said of why he was chosen. “All of the kids were great, but he really has a great idea.”
This isn’t his first great idea, having already been a winner on ABC realty TV show “Shark Tank” with his sisters for a silicone bracelet with tradable and track-able coins, called Flipoutz. The business was later sold to a toy company.
He was also a child actor in “Army Wives” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”
Grow Your Own Business is part of the “Secret Millionaires Club” Learn and Earn financial literacy promotion sponsored by the Fairholme Foundation to teach good financial habits.