11 questions with an 11-year-old local Robotics entrepreneur «Calgary Economic Development»
By Nelda Schulte, Program Coordinator, Careers in Calgary, Business Development & Workforce Innovation via Calgary Economic Development.
Robots R Fun Chief Robot Maker (CRM) and Robotics for kids advocate Lauren Voisin has an impressive CV for a robotics veteran. She is an Entrepreneur in Residence with Market Grade, a Board member of University of Calgary’s Werklund Youth Leadership Advisory Centre, a speaker at the San Francisco Maker Faire and a regular exhibitor at Make Fashion and Calgary Mini Maker Faire.
Most impressive of all is her age. Lauren is a mere 11 years old.
When she’s not creating new robotics kits for kids, Lauren can be found sharing her passion for robotics and science with kids, especially girls.
We sat down with Lauren to deconstruct how she turned her interests into a career at age 11.
- How do you find the time to run a business and do everything else?
Lauren: My older sister and I have been home schooled by my mother Jacquline, for the past two years. Although I liked school and did well, it took away time from my Robots R Fun business and my outside interests.
- Tell me about your business – what does it involve, who are your clients, what are your goals for where you’d like it to evolve?
Lauren: I want to expose kids to technology at a young age – especially girls. Kids shouldn’t have to wait and girls can do anything. If kids start using technology in kindergarten, it’ll just be part of their lives. Kids need to hold technology in their hands, then it’s nothing special – just there, part of life, not nerdy.
- What age were you when you started your business?
Lauren: There wasn’t anything that gives kids a chance to get interested in robotics, so I built my first robot at age 6 ½, and had the idea to start a business at age 7 but waited till I was 8.
- What is the most difficult part about running a business?
Lauren: People don’t take kids seriously. Also, the fluctuating Canadian dollar and having to resource parts is a challenge. Businesses close down and I have to find replacement parts at low prices to keep the costs of the kit down to $10.
- What’s the easiest/most fun part about running a business?
Lauren: Speaking, talking to people about the business, and meeting tons of cool people.
- What kind of a career do you see yourself in when you have completed high school?
Lauren: Electricity and technology – maybe electrical engineering or quantum physics.
- What kind of education/experience do you think would prepare you for this? Why?
Lauren: Math, physics, history – because it’s important to know what you’re coming from, and English – you have to know how to communicate.
- What kind of support do you believe is critical in running a business and what advice would you give to kids who have a business idea?
Lauren: Find a business mentor, and a lean business model (you can find those online), and never give up – if you like something, be passionate about it.
- Who are your mentors?
Lauren: Kris Hans – Market Grade, Shannon Hoover – Maker Faire, and Ladies Learning Code.
- How about your mother?
Yes, a little bit.
- What else do you like to do?
Lauren: I’m still a kid – I take singing lessons and silk dancing – I like to go to the mall with my friends, although my friends will look at the stores, and I always go to Tesla.
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