Fifth-grade vending machine entrepreneur Michael “Mikey” Wren of Jennings, Missouri, got a nice surprise during the recent Young Biz Kidz year-end awards presentation, which celebrated 30 St. Louis-area boys and girls who spent the past year learning about business.
But the surprise wouldn’t have happened so smoothly without the help and kindness of Candice Clossum, a University of Missouri–St. Louis upperclassman and intern at the College of Education’s ED Collabitat, where the event took place Nov. 18.
“Mikey’s Munchies” first came to the attention of St. Louis television reporters last summer. The 10-year-old north St. Louis County businessman has written a children’s book, “Mikey Learns About Business,” and become a popular inspirational speaker.
When one of those news stories caught the attention of A.J. MacQuarrie, CEO of San Diego-based KarmaBox Vending, MacQuarrie connected with Mikey’s mother, Arriel Biggs, the founding force behind Young Biz Kidz.
MacQuarrie offered to mentor Mikey as he grows his business, and he also wanted to reward Mikey’s initiative and determination by supporting one of Generation Z’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs. What better way to do that, MacQuarrie thought, than to give Mikey a KarmaBox to learn about healthy snacks and healthy vending – and bring him aboard as the newest member of the KarmaBox family?
The plan was then set in motion for MacQuarrie to present the keynote address at the awards luncheon on UMSL’s campus. Afterward he would surprise Mikey by presenting him with his own KarmaBox.
Everything was set. The KarmaBox would be delivered on the eve of the event – at 3 p.m. Nov. 17, an hour after the Collabitat was supposed to be closing that Friday before fall break. Clossum agreed to stay late to let Biggs get the machine squared away in the room where the next day’s luncheon would be held. But as happens with delivery services the world over, 3 p.m. came and went. So did 4 p.m.
“By 4 p.m. I was getting very worried,” Biggs said. “I knew it was time for Candice to go home. She’s a student, so I know her time is precious to her.”
More time ticked by. No word from the delivery company. No wayward delivery trucks were sighted on campus.
“Candice reassured me that everything would work out, and she offered to stay another hour and wait,” Biggs said.
Finally, as the sun disappeared for the night, the truck showed up. The vending machine was quickly wheeled inside and placed on the stage, hidden in plain sight, next to the podium.
The next day, when Mikey was told the KarmaBox was for him, at first he wasn’t sure if what he’d heard was actually what he heard. Once it sank in, he was all smiles. Mikey hopes to install his new machine at his school in Jennings.
“We want to give a big thank-you to Candice from the entire Young Biz Kidz family,” Biggs said.
UMSL’s Amber Bell-Christian, a program producer for the ED Collabitat, noted that the Young Biz Kids organization is a past participant in the center’s Education Entrepreneur in Residence Program – and Clossum is currently serving as the lead intern for the program.
“Candice has been amazing to the Edpreneurs, and we love having her with us in the Collabitat,” Bell-Christian said. “I’ve worked with Candice since she was a freshman at UMSL, and she rises to any challenge with success.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch