Alina Morse is a typical 14-year-old girl in a lot of ways. She goes to high school, likes to dance, and lives with her parents.
Did we mention she also runs her own international candy empire? Oh. Well, she does.
The story begins with a trip to the bank when Morse was 7. She asked if she could have a sucker, but Dad discouraged her, explaining that candy was bad for her teeth. She went home empty-handed that day, but something tugged at her mind. "Candy tastes so good. Why does it have to be bad for your teeth?"
A Healthy Lollipop?Instead of using simple sugars to make her candy, Morse’s Zollipops are made with xylitol (pronounced zy-li-tol), a natural sweetener. It took months of research, testing, and YouTube-watching to develop the candy base, but once she finally did, Morse had the hippest lollipop in the world—a sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free treat that still tastes good and actually cleans your teeth. Using $3,500 of her own money (which she had saved from birthdays and holiday gifts) and a manufacturing investment from her father, Morse built a company and sold 70,000 Zollipops in her first year. Things only grew from there.
The Inspiration Behind Morse and ZollipopsIn August 2019, Inside Edition ran a wonderful feature on this teenage entrepreneur. From the clip, it’s not difficult to see that Morse is bright, engaging, and driven—all keys to success. It’s also clear that her parents had a lot to do with her achievements. (I imagine this is the case in nearly every child prodigy story). Morse’s mother and father appear to be loving, nurturing parents who helped guide their daughter’s habits, values, and thinking.
Most parents, I think it’s safe to say, do not buy their 5-year-olds financial success literature. Well, Tom Morse did. When his daughter was 5, he gave her the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." The book apparently made an impression.
“I looked at that, and I said I could create a company, but I could create it with a mission,” Morse explained. “I could help people through business.”
The LessonNo one is saying Morse isn’t responsible for her success. She is. It’s quite possible she would have been a teenage millionaire if she hadn’t read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad."
The lesson is that successful entrepreneurs create value through vision and empathy. They see how the world can be better, and they put resources—blood, sweat, capital, and time—into creating it. But it all starts with empathy, explains BuildDirect CEO Jeff Booth.
Empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of others—is essential to entrepreneurs because it allows them to see opportunities others do not. Basic economics teaches that this an essential component of wealth creation.
"While other market participants are more or less passive, unaware of or perhaps uninterested in profit-related opportunities, entrepreneur-producers search out and exploit profit potentials."
Prior to Zollipops, it was no secret that candy is bad for children’s teeth. What it took was a child’s empathy to recognize it was a problem for multitudes of children (and their parents, who have to pay their dental bills).
That’s the power and beauty of entrepreneurship.