Long gone are the days of stressing over impending homework deadlines and grueling late-night study sessions. During the summer months, tweens and teens look forward to making some extra cash and working.
But this year’s summer came with its own challenges. As health and safety risks related to the pandemic continued to prevail, many local businesses cancelled their job opportunities for the season.
For a select group of local students, the current setbacks haven’t dampened their entrepreneurial spirits. Instead, these kidpreneurs are putting their creativity to work, launching their own individual startups to earn a few bucks and, for some, giving back to the community.
Eleven-year old Orit Vainstein from Bethesda kick-started her babysitting business in early June with help from her friends and family. The rising sixth grader at North Bethesda Middle School is both the founder and a member of Virtual Kidsitters, an online kid sitting group helping parents efficiently work from home with minimal stress.
“Virtual kid sitting is to help parents be able to work while the kids do fun and educational activities,” Vainstein says. “We know that parents during this quarantine need to work, but their kids always want attention.”
Virtual Kidsitters currently includes nine babysitters, including Vainstein and her friends from school, Hebrew school and camp. The group primarily works with children in kindergarten through second grade. The babysitters also offer classes and storytime sessions for younger children through their newly launched Pre-K program.
Each kid sitting session features two babysitters who engage in interactive activities, including arts, crafts and games, with up to five children. These sessions are free and take place over Zoom, lasting for a maximum of 45 minutes.
Although the group’s collective goal is to help working parents amidst the ongoing pandemic, Vainstein mentions that Virtual Kidsitters has a larger humanitarian goal—one that’s more universal than personal. The babysitters collect optional donations from their customers and donate proceeds to the Manna Food Bank, American Red Cross and Feeding America. As of mid-July, Virtual Kidsitters has collected close to $200 in donations.
“We’re actually not getting money for ourselves…we want to help people and our community in these rough times,” Vainstein says.
In the same spirit as Vainstein, Noah Medved and Mac Patterson, two 15-year-old teens from Virginia, are also making money this summer by detailing and cleaning neighborhood cars. What started as a simple act of generosity soon flourished into a complete business idea for the pair.
“I started, at first, cleaning my mom’s car…just because I was trying to be nice,” Medved says. “I soon realized that I could make money off of this.”
Medved and Patterson’s car detailing business, which was launched in May, has garnered more than 40 local customers. The business’s services are advertised on Facebook, which allows for quick and efficient customer outreach.
Although their work is quite rewarding—the pair make $85 to $95 per car—Medved and Patterson acknowledge that their jobs are both strenuous and difficult. They both work approximately six to eight hours per day and are oftentimes overbooked due to their high volumes of clients.
“We get pretty tired and we get triple booked on cars,” says Patterson. “We put our hard sweat into these cars.” The pair are also saving their profits for college.
But despite all the challenges, both Medved and Patterson agree that managing their car detailing business is a “learning experience.” Proper scheduling and organization are key for running their business smoothly and ensuring that each of their customers receive the best service possible.
Unlike Vainstein, Medved and Patterson, 15-year-old Ryan Weiner from Potomac is using his personal passion—specifically, his passion for baseball—to make profit. The high school student is providing individual baseball lessons to local children in hopes of giving them the opportunity to improve their skills and appreciate the sport.
“One thing that I’ve always noticed when I’ve taken lessons is that sometimes they are never geared towards the kids,” says Weiner. “I really want to gear my lessons to these [elementary school] kids who are [8 – 11 years old], where they can really grow and get so much better in a short amount of time.”
Weiner uses personal connections, online listservs and social media platforms to help publicize his lessons and encourage kids to enroll. Each lesson is catered towards Weiner’s individual students, focusing on their technique, form, pitching and more. Baseball lessons also are anywhere from an hour to two hours long.
The price for Weiner’s lessons all depends on the length of the practice and the number of students. For an hour-long lesson with one student, Weiner charges $30.
Because his lessons are interactive, Wiener adds that he constantly has to be aware about his students’ safety as well as his own. He’s readily stocked with plenty of hand sanitizer, masks and disinfecting wipes. He’s also mindful of social distancing protocols and makes sure that he and his students maintain at least 6 feet in distance.
“That’s really a setback when you’re in a pandemic, just in general,” he says. “If I were to do this when it’s not quarantine, I can basically meet up with my clients wherever.”
And Wiener mentions that he does plan to continue his lessons even after quarantine passes.
“This is something that can help a lot of kids,” Wiener says. “I want to be a role model to these kids and I think this is a great way to be [one].”
Compared to the other young entrepreneurs, David Renbaum’s own business initiative doesn’t focus on a single service, but rather many. The college student’s Baltimore County-based task service, Clock In, completes routine errands for individuals within the COVID-19 high-risk demographic. Errands include grocery shopping, car washing, dog washing, moving furniture, restaurant pickups and delivery and dump runs.
Like many students, Renbaum was set to work as a camp counselor at sleepaway camp for the summer. But his plans were cancelled due to the pandemic and his own autoimmune condition. Devoid of work and unable to find local jobs, Renbaum began creating his own jobs to make money over the summer.
“I forecasted a pretty empty summer, and I was brainstorming ways on how to fix it and how to create work for myself,” he says. “So, the first thing that I came up with is an employment agency.”
After completing a few grocery runs for his grandparents, Renbaum and his friends developed their business idea and organized the task service startup. Clock In was officially launched on May 26 with a strong staff entirely made up of Renbaum’s friends, family and family friends. The startup currently has 10 independent employees.
Clients first sign up for a specific service(s) on Clock In’s official website. Employees then coordinate amongst themselves to determine who will serve each client and what specific services they’re requested to provide. After errands are run, employees continue to keep in touch with their clients to ensure that any future requests or services can be completed immediately.
“People don’t necessarily know what they need until they need it,” Renbaum says. Such tasks, like grocery shopping or food pickup, are both simple and routine in nature. And for those who are wary of stepping outside during this time, having these tasks completed for them is greatly beneficial.
Staying true to the startup’s principal mission, Renbaum adds that 10 percent of Clock In’s profits in the month of June was donated to Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 Response team. Another non-profit organization or local charity will be chosen for the month of July, says Renbaum.
A version of this story appeared in the August 2020 issue of Washington FAMILY.