The sweet story of the rise of Mikaila Ulmer now has a little muscle behind it.
The 12-year-old began making flaxseed lemonade when she was 4, using a cookbook that has been in her family since the 1940s. After learning about how important pollination by honeybees is to crops and flowers, she began sweetening her lemonade with honey.
She did more than run a curbside lemonade stand. She launched a company, Me & The Bees, based in Austin, Texas, which gives a portion of its profits to companies invested in saving the honeybee population and draws potential customers with the slogan “Buy a bag, save a bee.”
The idea struck a chord. At age 9, she appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” landing an investment deal. Oprah Winfrey featured her in her magazine, and Mikaila met Barack and Michelle Obama.
You can find her lemonade in nearly a dozen retail chains, the largest being Whole Foods. That number should grow after last week’s news. A group of NFL players and former players intend to invest $810,000 in her burgeoning enterprise.
Arian Foster, a retired NFL running back who is in the investment group, told the Houston Chronicle: “We look for companies that match our main focus of developing a good product but are also good people and do it for the right reasons.”
In many cases, succeeding in a new business venture only happens after many years of hard-earned experience. And certainly, Mikaila received a lot of professional help to get an idea out of her head and onto the shelves of Whole Foods. But her success shows that you do not need to be have a MBA to come up with a million-dollar idea. You just need to not be afraid to fail.