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Naples travel baseball team among young SWFL entrepreneurs

Someday a group of Southwest Florida children could be millionaires. In fact, they are already on their way to making that happen by running their own student businesses.

We met the boys of Naples Storm, a U-12 travel baseball team, at Naples Children’s Business Fair held at Gulf Coast High School in Collier County Saturday. And they’re not just student-athletes; they’re young entrepreneurs.

“We got together after one of our practices, and we made these, sat down and made these,” Max Ronniger said.

The boys are making, advertising and selling dog toys. It immediately helps the ball players fund team trips on their own dime.

“It’s kind of like I’ve never experienced it, like actually doing a business,” Storm player Ronniger said. “I never thought I’d be doing this.”

Naples Storm pitched their product to buyers at the business fair this weekend. The team was among 120 other student businesses at the event.

“It’s basically having your dreams come true,” student Olivia Muller said. “You think of something; you put it to plan.”

These tiny tycoons are teaching themselves business, which includes pricing and balancing a budget.

“This one costs $60,” student Genevieve Blitch said.

“The money I’m making … I’m using it to get supplies,” student Julia Muller said.

The young business leaders are also learning to compromise with family investors.

“I wanted a food truck,” student Owen Kurtz said. “My parents said I couldn’t start off with a food truck, so I went and got a food cart.”

Their efforts are already paying off.

“A lot of them, we’ve seen make this into a real business,” said Nikki Dvorchak with Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. “We have a little boy who has a company called Big O’s Mobile Food cart.”

And the young chef is being hired to do events.

“By the time you’re older, you’ll have a big business started already,” Kurtz said.

The children’s business fair is a national movement. Last year, more than 400 cities across the nation participated.

Every entrepreneur agrees work isn’t easy, but they say it’s worth it if you’re doing what you love with who you love.

“Being an entrepreneur, it’s really kind of the best thing I’ve ever done, especially working with my little sister,” Muller said.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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