Hi Biz Kids. I’m Harrison Brooks the 17-year-old founder & CEO (Chief Elevator Officer) of ElevatorUp: a brand-new card game that’ll keep you smiling through Ups, Downs, and even getting Stuck!
For as far back as I can remember, I have been a creator. I don’t create to make money or to become famous. Instead, I create because I can’t not create. Most ideas come, get fully explored, and then I move on. But a few have come to life — my first business, when I was 12, was Happy Harry’s Services, which offered babysitting, dog walking, and PO Box pickup (going to the post office and bringing mail from PO boxes to offices). Next was my charity where I went to a nursing home, brought care packages, and spent time with the residents. At age 14, I launched CustoKit, a service that allowed you to create a customized First Aid kit tailored to your needs. I think CustoKit had the potential to be a “real business” but I was too inexperienced to make it happen. Most recently I launched ElevatorUp, but the idea started 5 years ago.
When I was around 12, I was bored of the most popular card games, having played them over and over again. So, I came up with a set up rules for a new game. The first cards were cut up pieces of printer paper. As I would play it, I constantly revised the rules. One day, as I was playing I realized, “Wow! This is actually fun! Other people may really enjoy this, too.” so I paired the rules with the theme of elevators and got to work making better looking designs.
After many designs and redesigns, I ordered my first prototype from a printer overseas. I finally had my finished product and was ready to start selling. My original plan was centered around in-person demos at stores, but, with COVID, that was no longer an option, so I turned to Amazon as my marketplace, as the world shifted 100% online. I could not afford advertising and did not want to just send out free samples, so I took to email and reached out to anyone and everyone, literally. I scrolled through Instagram and LinkedIn looking for people who post about games or who have a connection to elevators. Rarely, they would respond. Even more rarely, they would be interested in reposting. And 2-3 times, they became customers!
I began to build momentum. I also started reaching out to local newspapers. Before I knew it, I was in 5 print publications, including the front cover of two, and even more online ones. The joke in my family was that it was a slow news week! On my way to my first interview with a journalist, I said to my mom, “Wouldn’t it be funny if one day I make it to TV.” Well, that ended up happening, which created a real spike in orders, which passed as quickly as it came. I went from #14 best-selling dedicated deck card game on Amazon to barely holding my position in the top 100 a week later. The rollercoaster was fun and left me thinking about how to repeat it over and over again. So now I’m putting my creativity not into inventing something new (yet that’s always still going on in the back of my mind), but into how to creatively raise the awareness of ElevatorUp.
Here’s my advice to any aspiring Biz Kids:
- Have fun, of course. If it’s not fun, why do it?
- Fail. Make mistakes and learn. And do it with pride. There’s no room for embarrassment or shame if you’re a kid entrepreneur.
- Reach out to people. Don’t be scared to email random people. People are nice, especially to kids. You won’t be a kid forever, so take advantage of it. The worst they can say is “No.”
- Whether things are going well or not, find that extra energy to push harder than you ever have before.
If you have questions, ideas, or anything else, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.