In many respects, Lucas Dinahan is a typical teenager. Until last year, he was the captain of his hockey rep team, he’s a bit obsessed with video games (including Grand Theft Auto), he loves longboarding and he’s really keen to play more paintball.
But there’s more to this outgoing 15-year-old Mission Secondary student.
He also has a decade of business acumen from running a gumball machine enterprise, he’s rubbed shoulders with entrepreneurial gurus such as Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad) and Darren Weeks, and this fall, he launched a book that chronicles his business experiences so far, called The Gumball Kid.
Lucas hopes other kids, parents and teachers pick up his self-published book and get inspired to become more financially literate and to chase their own goals.
“What I tried to do is to hit every generation, so kids could understand it, and so it wouldn’t bore adults,” said Lucas in a recent interview in his family’s kitchen.
The lessons began when he was four, when his dad Lance Dinahan would take him along to his electrical contracting jobs. Lance would pay his little son for whatever odd jobs he could do, such as retrieving tools for dad.
By the time Lucas was five he had $150, and his dad suggested he could invest in an enterprise and make even more money. Together they decided on a gumball machine, and Lance paid for half of the cost himself.
“At first I didn’t think it would work – I did work hard for that money, but I trusted dad,” said Lucas.
The first place they went to was the tanning studio Casa del Sol in Mission, whose owners Lance knew. He made Lucas approach the owner to make the pitch.
“I could barely reach the counter,” Lucas recalls.
After he installed that first gumball machine, Lucas recounts in his book: “I had that feeling inside me of great pride, but what I didn’t know was that I was turning into a entrepreneur.”
That first machine led to 80 more, and last week, he just closed a deal on another 60 machines.
All along the way, Lance has coaxed and coached his son, following concepts outlined in Rich Dad, Poor Dad. So when Lance decided to hone his business skills with business coaching through Darren Week’s Fast Track program, he took his son along.
After Weeks heard Lucas’ story, he asked the youngster to speak in front of the group the next day, and again at a coaching conference in Edmonton. That’s where Lucas was encouraged to write a book on his experiences as a kid in commerce.
Lucas was also invited to talk on a radio program with Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Kiyosaki.
“He’s done pretty good for a 15-yearold,” said his dad, who himself recently earned a Better Business Bureau marketing award for his company, Excalibur Electric. The book is also a testament to the love and encouragement Lance gave to his son.
Lucas acknowledges that support in a touching dedication in his book: “Nothing beats having a dad that will do anything to watch his son succeed … I promise you I will return the favour when I’m older, to thank you for all of the support you’ve given me.”
Now Lucas wants to pass on his know-how and encouragement to other kids who want to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. He is offering consulting services through his website, where he is also selling copies of his book.
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