Written by Corinne Garcia Thursday, September 08 2011Snapshot: Aidan Sommers, Blooming Entrepreneur
Most 10 year olds are busy playing as hard as possible, enjoying sports, and hanging out with their buddies. As far as business sense goes, their entrepreneurial experiences probably consist of a neighborhood lemonade stand. But blooming entrepreneur Aidan Sommers is not your average 10 year old. Sure he likes to play with LEGOs and go to swim team practice, but in his spare time, he’s also been developing a phone app called RoX, with most of the proceeds to benefit kids in Haiti.
Womenetics: What inspired you to start the RoX app?
Aidan Sommers: My inspiration was to help the kids in Haiti by selling our app and raising awareness of what it is like for them to live there. And, hopefully raise money to send to their orphanage homes.
Womenetics: What brought your attention to the problems kids face in Haiti?
Sommers: The earthquake in 2010. I saw a TV commercial about donating money to the homeless kids in Haiti, and I decided that if we could sell our game, then I could help them with sending money from selling RoX.
Womenetics: How does the app work?
Sommers: RoX is a strategy game that is good and fun to play for people of all ages. It works from players taking turns in trying to form one of the three elements: rock, paper, or scissors. RoX is not a normal chance game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. You have to play it with strategy while taking turns.
Womenetics: How will it directly benefit kids in Haiti?
Sommers: After we make back our cost for developing the game, we’ll donate a portion to the kids in Haiti. We are also helping to raise awareness about the kids there who are treated as slaves. I know it’s hard to believe that this practice still exists. In Haiti, the Creole/French language has been a part of their life passed from one family to the next. A local word used to describe this bad practice of slavery is “restavec” (or restavek). This describes a child whose family doesn’t have enough money to support him or her, so they give the child to another as a personal house servant. Approximately 300,000 restavecs exist in Haiti today. They are more than likely abused and do not attend school. The United Nations considers restavec a modern form of slavery. You can learn more facts about restavecs on our web page.
Womenetics: Once you had the idea for the app, how did you put the wheels into motion to actually develop it?
Sommers: Once I had the idea for the strategy part of Rock, Paper, Scissors, we had considered making it into a board game, but the expenses were too high and we didn't want a house full of board games. So, after that, we did not work on it too much; my dad and I just played the game. Then when I saw the TV commercial about Haiti is when I had the idea to make it an app. So, we found a programmer to write the program for it, and now we are just trying to get the word out about RoX.
Womenetics: Have you done much in the way of community service in the past?
Sommers: I have volunteered as a Boy Scout, doing neighborhood litter clean up, and I regularly volunteer as an altar server for my church.
Womenetics: Why do you think it’s important for kids to give back to the community or the world?
Sommers: I think just if kids help other kids, for example the child slaves in Haiti, it would just benefit the world and make everyone happier. Also, it is much better to give than to receive, and I believe that sharing with others shows respect.
Womenetics: Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur?
Sommers: I do see myself as an entrepreneur now, and later I could see creating new apps with my dad.
Womenetics: What has been your biggest challenge in this whole project?
Sommers: The biggest challenge I am facing now is getting the word out. I mean, telling people the app is coming and getting people to like our app. Hopefully we could get it to the point where it has as many downloads as Angry Birds (a puzzle video game app).
Womenetics: How do you think you can meet this challenge?
Sommers: Because we don't have a lot of money, we’re trying to talk to people like you to help us get the word out. Also, Apple store is now in 30 to 40 countries, and we are hoping that they will help us.
Womenetics: What kind of work do you see yourself doing when you’re grown up?
Sommers: When I get older what I see myself doing is fighting for our country in the U.S. Air Force, and I am hoping to pilot a special plane called the Globemaster III.
Womenetics: What have you learned from this whole experience?
Sommers: One of the things I have truly learned from it is that it’s not all fun and games to make a business. It takes hard work and devotion to start up a business like this one. It is much more complicated than most people think. It is not easy to get it going. You can't just pay some people to work, and then you're set for life. It takes time, effort, and hard work. RoX is fun, but it’s still work.
Womenetics: What advice do you have for other kids who want to find some way to give back?
Sommers: Well, one thing would be to buy RoX! If you go to my website you will see how RoX supports charity.
Womenetics: What do you do for fun?
Sommers: I have many hobbies, but one of the things I really love to do is compete in swimming. Also, I like LEGOs. I love building so many different things with them. Also, spending time with my friends and family.
Corinne Garcia is a freelance writer and editor living with her husband and two young boys in Bozeman, Mont. She has also written for Women’s Adventure, Christian Science Monitor, Northwest Travel, Pregnancy, Fit Pregnancy, and Fit Parent.