America at work
How These NJ Kids Inspire Future Entrepreneurs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation | April 4, 2017

Inspiring entrepreneurial spirit at any age can be difficult, but one New Jersey family set out to help young children discover the path to entrepreneurship in a fun way. Launch!, an interactive board game designed to teach children entrepreneurial skills, was inspired when 15-year-old Joey and his ten-year-old sister, Heidi Hudicka realized their friends didn’t understand their potential business ideas. Joey and Heidi have always been encouraged by their parents to explore how their ideas could become reality through something their dad likes to call “productive play.”

With the help of their parents, Joey and Heidi took their ambition and the entrepreneurship learned at home to create a board game that helps children gain skills that will be valuable throughout life, on any career path. The game helps children learn the language of business and innovation, make tough decisions, and adapt to unexpected challenges. Launch! exposes them to issues that business owners and employees face every day, like job creation and sustainability, demonstrating that business is measured by more than its bottom line.

“Launch! allows young people to discover the potential of their ideas, which is the heart of innovation. Innovation doesn’t just happen, innovation can and should be taught,” said Joe Hudicka. The Hudicka family wanted to provide kids with the resources necessary to start learning about entrepreneurship, but also the space for their ideas to be heard.

What started out as a family project has quickly turned into a much larger initiative. After presenting the game at the Hunterdon County YMCA after-school program, its popularity among students caught on quickly. From there, Joey and Heidi continued to share their creation with schools around the county. They were recognized for their work by the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce with the 2016 Amazing Kids in Business Award.

“Heidi and Joey both exemplify the true spirit of entrepreneurism, which is truly contagious when you speak to them,” said Christopher Phelan, president and CEO of the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce. He adds, “Their story of success at such a young age—demonstrated by launching their own business and inspiring other future entrepreneurs—is an incredible achievement.”

Joey and Heidi are hoping to directly assist their community by having their game manufactured locally. To help them achieve that goal, the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program connected the family with the MIX lab at Montclair State University for engineering and 3D printing expertise, and Premium Color Group, which prints all other game materials.

The Hudicka family is currently working with the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce on an upcoming Launch! event to serve as a model for future events, with the hopes of expanding to a national series. They hope Launch! will inspire children across the country to explore their creativity and provide them with the skills to turn their ideas into reality.

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation blog.