Douglas Smith has always had “a knack for business.”
His entrepreneurship seeds were first sewn when he launched his own tutoring business in eighth grade. Now, as a senior at The Overlake School in Redmond, he has launched a new business — KuriousMinds — with his mother.
“It all really stemmed from my entrepreneurship background,” he said. “My mom has a lot of experience launching products and starting businesses.”
His mother, Soojung Smith, has worked as a product and marketing executive at Dr Pepper/7 Up, Anheuser-Busch, AT&T and Microsoft.
For Douglas, he said he wanted to provide local youths with opportunities to learn entrepreneurship skills and start their own businesses like he did.
KuriousMinds is a Bellevue-based education startup. Its debut program, Young Sharks, focuses on teaching local elementary and middle school students the fundamentals of starting a business such as generating ideas, conducting research, developing business plans and pitching them in front of a simulated panel of investors. The Young Sharks program, inspired by the television show “Shark Tank,” has been launched as an after school course as well as a week-long summer camp. By the end of the program, students will have the necessary skills, experiences and materials to pitch their ideas confidently to a simulated panel of investors.
The camps are hosted in various community centers throughout Seattle and the Eastside. Douglas said they try to go to where the majority of their students are.
KuriousMinds has served more than 100 Seattle and Eastside area students since its launch in 2017.
“It’s been so great to see these students go through the program. We get to see them develop confidence in themselves and realize their potential,” Douglas said. “I think it’s really important for youths to have these skills and know that they have great ideas that can actually turn into a real business…We’re doing what we can to empower the next generation.”
He said building this business with his mother has presented opportunities as well as challenges.
“Trust, loyalty and shared values are the ones that glue us together. There are, however, challenges when stress and pressure from the business side sometimes spill over into family relationships,” Douglas said. “My mom and I are very passionate individuals and sometimes we need a time out. Typically, my dad jumps in and serves as a mediator. We have learned to leverage each other’s strengths to get the benefit of operating as a family while minimizing the stress.”
Smith said he plans on continuing KuriousMinds with his mother throughout college. He said he hopes to grow KuriousMinds to serve students nationally and internationally as he wants more young people to be equipped with the knowledge and skills of starting a business.
For more information about KuriousMinds, visit www.kuriousminds.com.