You cannot spend and save what you haven’t already made. And you must always save more than you spend, and learn how to budget. Children can learn these topics at a young age and it’s up to an older generation to teach. Working for an allowance and saving for a special item is something that even young children can understand. Working towards a goal is brilliant and setting a budget is necessary.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kayla, Keagan, and Ashley Serverius, founders of Kid Everest.
Kayla, Keagan, and Ashley Serverius are the teenage founders of Kid Everest, the WORLD’S #1 crowdfunding platform safe for kidpreneurs. Kid Everest is the premier place for young CEOs to safely crowdfund their business idea, invention or prototype. The Serverius’ offer a platform for kids, by kids which includes mentorship, individualized assistance, and financial educational materials for budding and veteran entrepreneurs. The Serverius Trio has been featured all over the world in podcasts, newspapers and magazines. They have been featured on Gary Vaynerchuk 3 times, and Inc. Magazine has notably titled them, “The Most Entrepreneurial Children,” which they humbly share with all the dedicated young entrepreneurs in the world. They amplify the voices of young entrepreneurs and bridge the gap between young business owners and philanthropic investors.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?
We actually never really planned on being in the finance field, it sort of happened upon us. We have always been serial entrepreneurs and ever since we were little, we looked for ways to solve problems for others. From magnetic shoes that could never lose their mate to jumbo umbrellas for extra-large families, we always had solutions to others’ problems. It felt good to solve problems for others and make their lives that much easier.
When we were in 5th and 6th grade we were tasked with the challenge to come up with an idea that would “CHANGE THE WORLD.” That was the beginning of Kid Everest. Kid Everest is the WORLD’S #1 crowdfunding platform safe for young entrepreneurs. We knew that we were very lucky to always have friends and family fund our budding business ventures, and we acknowledged that not everyone had this access to funding nor the ability to spread awareness of their brand. We know that kids and teens are inherently creative and have innovative ideas that deserve to be shared with the world. So we set out to create a platform for kids, by kids. A place where young entrepreneurs could share their business, feel heard, and GET FUNDED!
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Kid Everest almost never happened! Although we came up with this idea as a school project, our teacher told us that it was a bit “too big” for the scope of school and encouraged us to do a bake sale instead. Friends and extended family told us it would be too hard, or that we would never be able to accomplish our goal. It was frustrating to hear this from people close to us and at times, we wanted to give up. Our parents were our biggest supporters, and a few months later, we got our big break. We entered Kid Everest into an accelerator program at one of the premier fintech centers near us and surprisingly, they invited us to come in to be interviewed for the program! This invitation blew us away! We were just 11 and 12 at the time and so excited! We worked on our pitch every minute leading up to the big day. We got dressed up and walked into the huge building with confidence. We nailed our pitch and the managing director told us that our pitch was “the best he’s seen in a long time,” but ultimately ended with, “come back when you’re older.”
That was tough to hear. Again we were being pushed away because we were kids. We had 2 ways to go from here: give up and walk away, or double down and show all of the doubters that we could do it. We decided from the moment we walked out of there, that we were going to do it. We were going to put everything that we had into making Kid Everest a reality. We were not going to continue with people who didn’t understand our idea or tell us to think small or that we were “too young.”
We marched forward, finding kids and teens with visions of being entrepreneurs and we found more of what we call “adult allies.” These are adults that believe in kids and their ideas. We were determined and we were going to do this. But it was hard! It was difficult to stay motivated when people thought our idea was ridiculous, but we remembered why we started this in the first place; to help young business owners just like us get started. We were going to do all the hard work and get laughed at and told we were dumb for even trying, just so we could save others from the same fate. We were not going to let another young CEO be treated the way we were. We were going to be exactly what we needed. A safe place to share our business idea, get tips and inspiration and raise debt-free capital. And we did just that.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Our website is currently the only place where kids and teens can safely crowdfund for business ventures. Although we launched right as COVID hit in March 2020, we have already helped over 20 entrepreneurs raise over 7,000 dollars. This number is always growing, and we are excited about the response we are getting from budding and veteran entrepreneurs. We are aspiring to continue this growth and are branching into school districts, entrepreneurship classes, and after school programs. We are creating educational lesson plans for teachers that align with the common core. We are teaching the aspects of life skills and financial literacy not taught in school. We are looking to help fund all aspiring young business owners. We are also working with financial institutions to teach alongside their savings programs. Our mission is to help as many young CEOs as we can and we believe that we can do this by sharing the stories and ideas of kid and teenpreneurs with the world.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Kid Everest is the WORLD’S FIRST and ONLY crowdfunding platform safe for young business owners. We are the only business of its kind. We believe in the creative ideas of kid and teenpreneurs and strive to best help them start their business ventures. Our business is for kids, by kids. We know what it is like to start and run a business as a young entrepreneur and we know the challenges that young entrepreneurs face. We offer a safe space for young CEOs to share their business ideas, prototypes, or inventions with the world and gain the necessary capital for their business.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
There are so many things that have caused this change to happen. People are beginning to not only recognize, but also act upon the injustices that affect women in the business world. Women are standing up for other women and we are working together, instead of ripping each other apart for a place in the business realm. Strong, dedicated, and driven women are now being seen in business as the powerful players that we are. We credit this shift to the strong, dedicated business leaders who are aware of this discrepancy and actively work against perpetuating it. Many studies cite that only 2% of female founders receive venture capital, which forces female leaders to search alternative routes for funding. Our mentors at IFundWomen have set out to change this and are now the second-largest crowdfunding platform funding over 50M for women-owned businesses.
This change in the finance industry is happening because women are coming into our power. We are pioneering this space for young entrepreneurs.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
Unfortunately, people are afraid of change. It is hard for some to see the need here. These high positions have been typically held by men because they were historically the one expected to work and bring home the money. Women were expected to stay at home and take care of the children.
It is always going to be difficult to fight the barrier on which an industry was built on.
To many, why fix something that is not broken? The problem is, these people are not affected by the bias set upon them because of their gender, so they do not see an issue. After 200 years as a nation, we are just now seeing the need for a female in a position as respected as Vice President. These shifts are slow but necessary for the betterment of our nation. We are stronger together. As individuals, we need to work on seeing the bias in which they have been raised in. Girls need to be raised to see strong and powerful women in roles that they can look up to. Boys need to be raised seeing that women are an equal and can do just as much as their female counterparts. Companies need to see the value in all individuals and work on being aware of their own bias in which vails their decision-making skills in the office. As a society, we can work together to value the input of each other and positively promote each others’ work instead of vying for the same space. There is space for all of us to be successful.
Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
This is unfortunately true. As teenagers, we have yet to be taught basic financial literacy in school. Running our own financial business has forced us to do a lot of research. We have learned a lot from our parents, other business owners and through our own research. This education has helped us in so many ways, but it could definitely be better. We are actively working to help those that are not given this education. In order to raise the number of Americans educated in financial literacy, we need to raise the number of students being taught financial literacy. To do our part, we have collaborated with some wonderful educators to create lesson plans that are aligned with common core standards. That way, educators can teach the standards in a way that is meaningful to their students. Informed students will grow up to be informed Americans. We believe that there is a place to introduce these topics at even the youngest of ages. We need to show school district administrators the value in teaching students about economic concepts that are meaningful to them. We believe that financial literacy should be presented as an accumulation of knowledge learned over a period of years, not just at the high school level as a “graduation requirement.” We would love to see more students encouraged to be creative and explore innovative solutions to everyday problems and more entrepreneurship classes in school.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
- Financial wellness is important to learn at a young age. We are young, but if we were to tell our grown children anything, it would be to teach what you know. Teach anything and everything you know about financial literacy to the younger generation. Start teaching young children a basic understanding of numbers and number sense. This is the foundation for mathematics and for understanding the value of money in the future.
- Financial wellness is not JUST about making money. It’s about saving and spending money. It’s about using your knowledge to make informed decisions about your finances.
- You cannot spend and save what you haven’t already made. And you must always save more than you spend, and learn how to budget. Children can learn these topics at a young age and it’s up to an older generation to teach. Working for an allowance and saving for a special item is something that even young children can understand. Working towards a goal is brilliant and setting a budget is necessary.
- Work on little goals that ultimately lead you to the bigger ones.
- Never stop learning and growing. And learn as much from another as you teach them, no matter the age. We are a community; of learners and teachers. Be open to the voices of others, even the littlest ones.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
We are very grateful for all of the people that have helped us along the way. If it weren’t for the doubters in the beginning of the process, we probably wouldn’t have pushed so hard to get Kid Everest to where it is today. If it weren’t for our parents and family saying, “this is the last business we are funding,” we would have never worked so hard to make it happen. We have been turned down by many companies, entrepreneurs, and investors, but we don’t let it stop us. We really believe that every obstacle is the way to success. Every little bump in the road made us refine things a bit more. These early experiences have shaped us into the motivated entrepreneurs that we are today. We are flexible. We adapt. We zig and we zag. We check and balance everything we do to ensure that we are getting better everyday.
Gary Vaynerchuk once told us, “1 yes is better than 7,000 no’s.” We use this mantra often to remind ourselves that we don’t need everyone to love our business. We just need to focus on those that DO LOVE it and those that DO NEED it. This is where we spend our time. We are grateful for all of the kid and teenpreneurs that come our way. We are thankful for all the generous investors that donate to our young CEOs.
We are also always indebted to the mentors that have graciously given their time to us to share their time, knowledge, and wisdom.
We listen a lot and we reflect even more. We think about where we are in our business and where we want to go. We are thankful for parents that encourage us to play, grow, and explore.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you cannot get a seat at the table, make a new table.”
This is a quote from us that really rings true for everything we do. If you approach a “table,” or a business situation, where you are not being taken seriously or with the amount of respect you deserve, do not try and find a seat. Do not attempt to wedge yourself in, just because the table seems more revered. This is not where you belong. You belong at a new table. One you built with the help of others that see your vision as much as you see theirs. Work together. Work and push until it is undeniable that you have the best, strongest, and most supportive table in the room. Surround yourself with people that are positive and driven for happiness. And if at first, people don’t join in to help build your table, that’s okay. It’s better to be happy alone than miserable with others. Continue your dreams. Sometimes you will have to go it alone and be your own cheerleader. Don’t worry, others will see your mission and help you build your table. Remember, “one yes is better than 7,000 no’s.”
We also always say, “Stay curious.” This is actually advice that we received from the young entrepreneurs behind Dabomb Bath Fizzers. We had the esteemed pleasure to meet Isabel and Caroline Bercaw a while back and we have held this quote in the back of our minds ever since. It encouraged us to continue to seek knowledge and ask questions when we need to. We try and stretch beyond what people think is “possible,” and continue to make our dreams come to life.0
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This is a loaded question. We want to bring awareness of how women are influencing the finance space, but we want to take it that little bit more. We want to bring about a revolution of change for young girls to recognize their power at a younger age. We want strong and determined girls and teens to be seen as the positive powerhouses that we are. We would love to see traditional gender roles challenged. Not all little girls want to be princesses. We want to be CEOs and we want to rule the world. We are valid and our voices are important too. It is time to start talking about how kids can CHANGE THE WORLD.
How can people connect with you?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.