All Grade 5 ISHCMC students got a chance to taste the world of business, we asked four about their experiences

International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) students participated in a Young Entrepreneurs’ Market at Saigon Outcast and Snap Cafe in April. We spoke to four of those Grade 5 Business Entrepreneurs who sold products and developed services as part of their business entrepreneurship unit. The products developed are all linked to the School’s International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP), where students are empowered to practice skills, develop their ideas and knowledge while naturally taking action in authentic real-world contexts.

Sebastien

Tell us about your PYP project.

For my product I was selling google cardboards, like a Virtual Reality (VR). I did this with a partner who also made game wheels—this is cardboard cut like a wheel where you add your phone and then you have a game. Our company was called Re-Cardboard, the product we made can be reused. For the game wheels we used recycled cardboard.

What challenges did you encounter and what were the processes you had to follow?

Some of the challenges we encountered were material shortages. We could not find the materials locally so during our Tet holiday in Japan we bought the lenses. I had to search a lot and visited many shops and finally in the last shop I found two lenses. Luckily, my grandma helped me by calling the manufacturer and ordered some for me and then had them shipped to Vietnam.

Another challenge I encountered was cutting the cardboard. At first I did it by hand, however, the quality wasn’t too good, then I heard about a laser cutter in school so I contacted the Digital Tech Department, wondering if they could help me cut the template for the google cardboards with the laser cutters and they were happy to help, so that was a big help.

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What lessons did you learn?

When I was making the google cardboards in the beginning I knew it was going to be complicated, but after the PYPx journey I learned that even if things are complicated you should always start because you will finish, which is what happened for me. I finished the staging piece despite it being very difficult. There were time that it was extremely
complicated, but with support I succeeded.

What would you do differently?

When I was making my VRs I was making them late at night because I was busy during the day. It takes about 1.5 [hours] to assemble one by myself, so maybe next time I might have someone else help me so I don’t get to bed too late and feel tired the next day. Next time I would perhaps hire someone or have a friend or partner help me.

Will you continue with your business? How has this equipped you for the future?

I am continuing and, amazingly, my friend Brian at the store, iKnow agreed to sell them there. Maybe after school I will start making them. Brian thinks that people will buy them because of the interesting story behind the product and because it is a good product. I will have a big poster behind the VRs in the store. I am going to see if I can sell 4 VRs over the summer, if people buy them I will continue to sell them.

I am not passionate about being an entrepreneur so if they do not sell, I might stop being an entrepreneur for now. I might do another business at some point, but this experience was really powerful and taught me a lot of things so I am happy that I went through this. I think I am equipped for the future and I know the points of being an entrepreneur and what to expect.

Mia

Tell us about your PYP project.

My business was called “think Positive.” I was selling homemade dog and cat treats. I chose this business because I really have a strong connection with animals, but sadly I have an allergy to both dogs and cats so I had to figure out a way to help them without coming in contact with them. I am donating my money to an organization called ARC
(arcpets.com), they are a group completely run by volunteers that save abused and neglected animls. I am donating my money because I believe they are doing great things for our community and I want to show my gratitude.

What challenges did you encounter and what were the processes you had to follow?

At the beginning I wanted to do everything with my friend and we were supposed to choose something we were passionate about. My friend had great ideas, but I could not relate a hundred percent to those ideas. After I chose my business, I had to begin the creation of my product and I had to pick out recipes that I liked. I had to do research on each ingredient to make sure they were OK for dogs and cats to eat. I had to do about 5-6 recipes.

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What lessons did you learn?

I learned that 4 of them were very successful. One of the recipes was not working and another had ingredients that were not appropriate for dogs and cats. Sometimes I would be up till 11pm making treats the night before the sale— this was not good—I should have baked a couple of days in advance and should have been more organized.

Part way through my journey I was very disconnected with my business and felt lazy. I did not want to bake anymore treats and this was a problem because I was only half way through. I had to learn to love my business, which I did. I got to love my business because I knew that with each purchase I would be helping a dog or cat find a home.

What would you do differently?

In the beginning of my journey I was embarrassed and not proud of my business, I did not think it could be successful. I wish I would have been more open to suggestions and in this way have improved my business. I did not take feedback very well and often rushed through my work. I think that I could have been more organized by planning ahead.

Will you continue with your business? How has this equipped you for the future?

I will continue my business because I know that I still have customers who enjoy purchasing them from me, and I think that I can donate more to ARC because I feel they deserve it.

I feel as though my business will be better in the future when I have more experience and I feel more confident. I feel as though I can be even more successful if I work harder and share my story to my customers to help them understand my business. There is always room for improvements.

Keira

Tell us about your PYP project.

I was working with my best friend to make cupcakes, and with the proceeds we are going to donate to a charity that supports education for girls–we want girls to have an education. We wanted to try something new, we both believe that trying something new is adventurous. I had watched many baking shows and decided to try it. I am a risk taker,
it makes me feel that I can achieve something good. and I am proud that we can donate money to charity.

What challenges did you encounter and what were the processes you had to follow?

Since my partner was also my best friend we had many discussions because we both had different perspectives. I found that I was doing the heavy lifting and that she was not doing so much–that was what I thought. However, she did do things behind the scenes that I did not know and I only found out later that she actually did something. Now I feel that we have gotten closer because of the challenges we faced together.

What lessons did you learn?

I learned to be organized, if you are not organized during the PYPx it gets difficult. I learned to collect data right away instead of doing it later, or even forgetting about it. I learned to be confident speaking about my enterprise. I had to be prepared because people won’t be interested or come again if I do not present well.

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What would you do differently?

Honestly, I would not bake cupcakes, they are a perishable product. They have to be made right before the market, I didn’t have much time to prepare.

Will you continue with your business? How has this equipped you for the future?

I probably will not continue. I lost interest in baking, it is really hard and I realized that I am not that comfortable as a baker, but I will most likely do something else. If I start another business I have to see from the perspective of my partner to avoid arguing; have to look closer to see why a person is doing what they are doing and work out all problems and share responsibilities.

Hwa Jun

Tell us about your PYP project.

My PYPx project was selling Korean food because I am passionate about cooking and I am Korean. I wanted to choose a project that was also connected to my home country. I cooked traditional Korean street food such as tteokbokki, it is cylindrical-shaped rice cakes with spicy sauce.

I was doing this project with my Korean partner, we are both passionate about cooking and we thought we would work better together as a team rather than individually.

What challenges did you encounter and what were the processes you had to follow?

One of my challenges was working with my partner, we sometimes had different ideas about pricing. I wanted to sell a portion for VND40,000 and he wanted to sell for VND20,000. I found 20 too cheap and he said 40 was too expensive so we compromised and priced it for VND30,000 using both our ideas.

The other challenge was recording customers (gender and age) because we had so many customers at the same time. I did manage to find out how many customers we had and used the income to determine the financial outcome per customer.

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What lessons did you learn?

I learned that I have to take more risks when I do projects. At first, my plan was to have about 5 different kinds of dishes, but they all had problems and got old in less than 30 minutes while others were super spicy and most [people] would not have liked them, so we ended up with one dish. If I were to do it again I would try and get more items on the menu.

It is easier to work with a partner than individually. At first I worked by myself, but getting a partner helped me get new ideas and we were able to design a logo and brainstorm before doing new things.

What would you do differently?

If I were to do this again I would try more dishes because one of my goals was to introduce Korean food and that is better done with more items on the menu. I wanted to show different kinds of Korean food.

Maybe I would try to work by myself because I learned how to work with a partner for this, but now I want to learn how I can be more independent.

Will you continue with your business? How has this equipped you for the future?

Maybe when I grow up I will try and start this business again, but for now I will focus on other stuff, such as school and friends. Although I really want to show Korean food to people who are not familiar with it, right now I just want to focus on my studies and friends.

Images Provided by International School Ho Chi Minh City