Let’s Get Down to Business with Teen CEO Lily Born of The Kangaroo Cup
Tell us about your business.
We make no-spill cups called the Kangaroo Cup in plastic and ceramic for kids and adults who want to avoid spills and messes.
How old were you when you started?
I was seven years old when I first invented the Kangaroo Cup, and I was 10 years old when I launched my first crowdfunding campaign and brought the product to market.
Where did your idea come from?
My grandfather had Parkinson’s disease, and I noticed he was spilling a lot. It was embarrassing and caused my grandmother to have to clean up. I thought that if a cup had legs to lean on, it would be less likely to tip over and spill.
What’s most fun about running a business?
I love hearing from people who’ve bought the cups about how much they’ve helped them—that’s really what keeps me going. I also love talking to students about my experience because the cup is such a simple invention and the prototypes are so simple. My story really makes kids realize that they, too, can invent something important.
What’s the hardest?
It’s a really slow process and it takes a lot of determination. I’ve been at this half my life. When you invent something, you feel like the rest of the process is just details. But it can take years to go from that first sketch to getting the product to production.
What are your plans for your business in the future?
We’re working to develop a cup that’s a substitute for sippy cups and helps with a child’s palate and swallow development. We’re working with two pediatric orthodontists to develop that product.
Tell us what a typical day looks like.
The majority of my week is taken up by school, but when I’m not at school or at clubs, I’m hanging out with my friends, doing work for the business, doing homework, or watching movies and TV shows on Netflix.
Do you have a role model or mentor?
My dad! We’re business partners and he’s extremely supportive of the business and me.
What was the biggest mistake you made? What did you learn from it?
One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made is trying to get the cups produced in the U.S without much help. We wasted a lot of time on it, and the cups are still being produced in China. We learned that we cannot be afraid to ask for help. I believe that if we just had some extra help, then maybe we could’ve been successful.
What do you do when you’re not conquering the business world?
Well, I wouldn’t say “conquering,” but outside of school and the business I like to be with my friends, watch things on Netflix, and go shopping.
What habits or skills contribute to your success?
When I learned that I had to ask for help, that really helped a lot. For the second Kickstarter, we had an entire team—that Kickstarter ended up being one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to us as a company.
Any advice for other girls starting a business?
As I’ve mentioned before, one thing that I’ve learned throughout this process is to ask for help. So, that would be my advice, whether you’re young or old starting a business: You’re always gonna need help from someone, which is okay to understand and ask for. In fact, it will help you in the long run. It definitely did for me.
To learn more about Lily and Kangaroo Cups, or buy one for yourself, please visit Imagiroo.com.
Did you enjoy our interview with Lily Born? Take a look at other interviews that we did with teen CEOs.