MANSFIELD -- Madison Running’s business idea hatched in her own home, watching her mother prepare dinner for the family.
Now, the eighth grader and entrepreneur is pitching her invention on a national stage, facing off against 35 other young entrepreneurs in a “Shark Tank” style competition.
Running will present her product, CoolRim, on Saturday during the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) 12th annual Saunders Scholars National Competition. More than $80,000 in cash prizes and college scholarships is up for grabs.
“I’m pretty excited but I’m also kind of nervous,” said Running, 12, who attends Temple Christian School.
Running invented CoolRim after seeing her mom burn herself on pots and pans as she cooked. The dishwasher safe silicone liner goes around the tops of pots and pans to prevent burns.
Running and her father spent a couple of years perfecting the design, then applied for a patent.
"Me and my dad were searching the internet for anything that would be remotely close to that and when we didn't find it, we decided to put a patent on it," Running said.
Running’s parents, an engineer and math teacher, fostered an appreciation for business at an early age.
“Ever since Madison was little we decided it was important to teach her about business and how money works,” said her mother, Kim Running.
When she was younger, Running asked to purchase a miniature candy vending machine and place it inside a relative’s restaurant. Her parents allowed it on one condition -- that she track her sales in a notebook.
“Through that we taught her ‘This is what a profit is, this is what your margin is, this is how you do a markup,” Kim said.
Since then, Running has sold her share of the candy vending business to her younger siblings, giving her more time to focus on CoolRim.
Last year, she enrolled in YEA! Richland, a program that helps young entrepreneurs start up their own businesses. She credited the YEA! program with giving her the resources and connections she needs to speed up the process and get her product to the market.
"I would do YEA! again if I could," she said. “This program really helped me grow as an entrepreneur and as a person! I really started coming out of my shell this year and was able to speak up and communicate better.
"It's definitely set me on the right path for success.”
Running will make her pitch during the first round of semifinals, which starts at noon on Saturday. If she places among the top two, she’ll advance to finals, slated for 7 p.m. Finalists will eligible for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes as well as a $2,000 People’s Choice Award.
No YEA! Richland delegate has ever made it past the semifinals, but advisor Nikki Lewis believes Running has what it takes to be the first.
“The competitive factor is big with her. She definitely likes the challenge of competition,” Lewis said. “I think that between her pitch, her business and her overall passion she could definitely make it to the final and place in the final.”
The YEA! program is designed to help middle school and high school students build confidence through entrepreneurship education. With the help of local business leaders, the students design, pitch, and launch businesses, complete with founding documents, bank accounts, and websites.
YEA! Richland is currently accepting applications for the class of 2021. If you are interested in taking part in the upcoming class, please complete an application at yeausa.org by Oct. 19 or contact Lewis at the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development.