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Class of ’85

Lemons, Sugar, Water …
and a Marketing Plan?

To Emmanuel Modu WG’85, learning the fundamentals of investing and starting a business is as important as reading and math. A vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, Modu has set up his own Web site (www.teenvestor.com) to encourage young people to get an early start in entrepreneurship and money management. He wants to show them "the whole spectrum of things they can do with their lives" and offer some survival skills for a rapidly changing economy. "You don’t have to work for Chase Manhattan Bank like I do. It’s this whole idea of having choices that is important to me."
    Since graduating from Wharton with his MBA, Modu has spent much of his free time nurturing young business people and collecting stories about them. Yesterday’s lemonade-stand operators have become even savvier entrepreneurs today, creating their own lines of sportswear, running computer companies and manufacturing specialized water sprinklers, to give just a few examples that Modu shares on his Web site.
    Part of his inspiration came from his mother’s work as a cloth merchant in his birth country of Nigeria. "It was really her entrepreneurial skills which helped us survive the civil war in Nigeria" and put food on the table.
    Even if they aren’t business owners themselves, Modu says, parents can help bring out the entrepreneurs in their children by encouraging them to showcase their creative talents. They should monitor their activities, however, he warns, telling of the couple who began working for their 16-year-old son’s carpet-cleaning business. "He actually got so wealthy, he had an IPO on Wall Street. But he started doing some fraudulent things and landed in jail."
    The Teenvestor Web site contains advice about how to avoid more common pitfalls in running a business, such as neglecting to count expenses when measuring profits, and relying solely on family and friends as customers.
    He is the author of The Lemonade Stand: A Guide to Encouraging the Entrepreneur in Your Child (Gateway Publishers) and is working on another book, a practical investment guide for young people, due out in March. In past summers Modu has also organized a teen business camp at Rutgers University, a non-profit project he hopes to raise enough money to revive next year. For more information contact Modu at <modu@ix.netcom.com>.
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