Have you heard the buzz about Mikaila Ulmer, the 11 year old entrepreneur from Austin, Texas. Yes, I said 11! Mikaila started making lemonade at the age of 4 when her family encouraged her to enter a local entrepreneurship competition for youth. That summer, a couple of bee stings and a gift from her granny caused the stars to align in her favor, and Bee Sweet Lemonade was born.
You may remember Mikaila from her appearance on Shark Tank when she was just 9 years old. Daymond John awarded Mikaila’s company $60K for a 25% share in her business. Smart man! Last month, while attending the White House Easter Egg Roll as a celebrity chef, Mikaila announced that her company was awarded a multi-million dollar contract with Whole Foods markets in 4 states and that they will also change their name to Me and the Bees Lemonade in May 2016!
I had the chance to speak with Mikaila at a recent event. She shared wisdom far beyond her years. (Maybe there was more than flaxseed in her grandmother’s recipe.)
Me: I saw you on Shark Tank. Congratulations on the growth of Bee Sweet Lemonade. What’s it like running a business as a preteen?
Mikaila: It’s fun. I work really hard but I believe that if you start a business that you’re passionate about, you’ll enjoy what you’re doing and it won’t feel like work.
Me: Many people have started business but not all of them have been as successful as you. What makes your business stand out?
Mikaila: I have a great product and a good cause. I used something painful (two bee stings at the age of 4) to create something that helps the environment and it tastes good, too!
Me: What has been the hardest part of running Bee Sweet Lemonade?
Mikaila: People doubted me at first, even my friends. People couldn’t believe that a girl my age could learn about business and the environment and start a company, but my family believed in me. Now my family works for me and many of my friends have started businesses of their own!
Me: Mikaila, you’re an amazing girl doing big things! How do you balance your school work with running a business?
Mikaila: I have tons of family support and my mom makes sure that my school work is taken care of. She keeps my schedule and makes sure that I have time for the important things. I like to call her my Momager.
Me: It’s great to have someone to help you manage your time. What do you like to do when you’re not running a business or being a 6th grader?
Mikaila: I love rollerblading, reading, and spending time with my family.
Me: Reading? I love to read as well! What’s your favorite book?
Mikaila: The Books of Elsewhere, a series with a main character named Olive.
Me: Any parting words for budding entrepreneurs?
Mikaila: Find something you believe in and be willing to work hard. Owning a business can be fun if you are passionate about your product.
Mikaila gave an inspiring presentation and dropped pearls of wisdom that left a room full of business women jaw-dropped, feverishly taking notes. I’m keeping my eye on Mikaila Ulmer and tightening up my business plan. I pray that wherever she goes in life, she continues be(e)ing sweet!