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Let’s play princess… or CEO

Venture Kits is a box that has all the tools a kid needs to learn how to be the boss



Venture Kits’ Leslie Feinzaig and her CEO-in-training.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Kids jump at the chance to play as a princess, fireman or astronaut, but when was the last time you saw a child pretending to be a CEO? Local entrepreneur Leslie Feinzaig wants every kid to have a chance to run their own business, so she started her own toy company: Venture Kits, a box that has all the tools a kid needs to learn how to be the boss.

A few months after her daughter was born, Feinzaig watched her husband read his physics books to their daughter and realized she, too, wanted to share her career with their daughter. So she penned an imaginary letter promoting the 3-month-old to CEO. A version of that letter, congratulating kids on beginning their own company, comes as part of each Venture Kit.

The kits — first Treats To-Go, then Art Auction, and soon Talent Show — come with everything a kid needs to start the business. More important, there are instructions on how to do so. For the art auction, that means they get the watercolor paints and paper needed to create art, as well as a quick lesson from a professional artist on how to make a painting. The kit walks them through getting the art values appraised, scheduling an auction and finding an audience, then supplies the bidding paddles, auctioneer’s gavel and a script for selling — with room for ad-libbing descriptions of the art.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Organize an art auction from start to finish.

After a kid works through the whole process, the kit spells out options for potential uses of the income earned (including investing it back into the business, or saving it.) But Feinzaig has spent much of her career in the startup industry, so she knows things don’t always go as planned: there are also instructions on what to do if the business fails.

“I basically wrote a business plan for each one,” says Feinzaig, “then I turned it into a game.” She had worked for Seattle-based Big Fish Games, so she understood gamification and what she wanted out of the kits. But it wasn’t all about fun; she wanted toys that nourished creativity, encouraged problem solving, and taught kids how to communicate with people: the skills that she believes lead to successful adults — and more specifically, CEOs: “Everything starts with entrepreneurship.”

The kits are available online and at local toy stores, including Top Ten Toys, Kids Club, Snapdoodle Toys, Red Wagon and Island Books. 

$25-$30, venturekits.com

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