How an 8-year-old entrepreneur came up against a global corporation

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Darwin 0800
(ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
While the success of the business has taken him by surprise, the enterprise has a second purpose — to help the eight-year-old, who has dyslexia, navigate the written world.Getting business literate, writing e-mails and reading orders have all helped, according to his mum Joanne Walters.”He’s developing some self-confidence and it’s helping him with his reading and writing which is a problem because of his dyslexia,” she said.The idea for Angus’s business came about last year when Ms Walters was brainstorming ways to help her son overcome his learning difficulties.After experimenting with other ventures, during which Ms Walters was surprised by her son’s entrepreneurial flair, they decided to try their hand selling confectionery. Angus Copelin-Walters may have only turned eight in January, but already his business has made $10,000 in its first year and he’s had a run-in with an electronics and entertainment giant.He has donated to philanthropic causes, has his own page on LinkedIn, and has invested in a comfortable, bright red sofa.Ask him what ambitions he holds for the future and he’ll tell you — he wants to buy a Lamborghini.Maybe he will also buy a dirt bike. Photo:
Angus’s success led him to create Croc Tank, a forum in which children pitch their business ideas. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
“Some people came up and asked for bulk orders for a birthday and an event, so then it was right into the planning stage of how this was going to work and how he could learn from that,” Ms Walters said.Now, the eight-year-old counts the City of Darwin, local tourism destinations and the administrator of the Northern Territory as his clients. Angus wholesales crocodile-themed confectionery, marketed as Croc Candy, to a growing list of clients in Darwin. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
Eventually, they learned that Sony Pictures Television Inc, which is based in the United States and owns the Shark Tank trademark, had opposed the trademark application.Ms Walters said the company’s lawyers were unaware they were opposing an eight-year-old boy from Darwin when she contacted the firm’s Australian lawyers.”I rang the Australian-based lawyer up and just said: ‘This is the situation. To both of their surprise, the business grew. And for the enterprising young man, the ordeal may have offered a taste of the business world that even he wasn’t prepared for. His business recently celebrated its first birthday and donated $1,000 to a charity that supports children with dyslexia.David and Goliath match-upBut a bigger surprise came when a letter from Intellectual Property Australia arrived in the mailbox earlier this year.Angus had come up with a spin-off event to put other children’s businesses in the spotlight — a teenage blacksmith who fashions knives and a friend who sells slime kits are two examples he cites.”I wanted so kids could go on the stage and show off their business,” he said.Loosely inspired by the television show Shark Tank, Angus decided to call the forum Croc Tank and his mother set about registering a trademark. Were you aware?’ “The lawyer actually burst into laughter and said, ‘Oh no, we didn’t realise, and so I don’t think my client will be pursuing this’, so that was a great relief.”Angus is not in the business of running a TV show.” Both parties have entered a cooling-off period while they negotiate an agreement over the use of the trademark, due to be finalised later this year.The family is hopeful of an outcome that will allow them to hold an event under the Croc Tank name in the future. “I wanted to sell lemonade but then mum said no, so she wanted to sell candy,” he said.”It’s just a quality product that I knew,” Ms Walters, who grew up with the product, said.”When he was talking about lollies and lemonade, rather than just buying some from the shop, this was handmade, handcrafted and good quality.”Angus imported the confectionery and began selling it to a small network of “mum’s friends and some random people”, then on Facebook pages, and eventually over a stand at one of the city’s many regular markets. Maybe he will buy two Lamborghinis. Photo:
The entrepreneur ships confectionery to a handful of local clients. Photo:
The crocodile-themed candy has been popular among buyers in Darwin.
ABC Radio Darwin

By Jesse Thompson and Kate O’Toole

Updated

July 31, 2018 11:40:43

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Angus Copelin-Walters, the founder of a local confectionery company, is just eight years old. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)