A8_ScienceKid_CourtesyConnorBernstein
COURTESY CONNOR BERNSTEIN

At the ripe age of nine Connor Bernstein (COL ’16) created his own business. And now more than a decade later, he has kept at it, growing what was once a schoolyard operation to a company with national reach.

Bernstein grew up with an interest in science and enjoyed performing experiments with activity kits as a child. But he was often frustrated and disappointed with the quality of the experiments.

“They were expensive,” Bernstein said. “They were hard to use. The instructions were bad. They were overpriced and not kid–friendly.”

Rather than continuing to use these flawed kits, or giving up all together, Bernstein began making his own science kits and sharing them with friends as a fourth-grade student. As more and more people took an interest in his kits, Bernstein was able to turn this hobby into a business with his parents’ help.

“I made kits in my living room at home and sold them at local street fairs and craft shows in Chapel Hill, North Carolina,” Bernstein said. “The very first street fair that I sold at … I pretty much sold out. I had brought either 80 or 100 kits I had made myself. They were really popular.”

He continued making and selling these science kits locally as an elementary and middle school student, and named his company Connor’s Kits for Kids. In 2009, he formed an LLC as a freshman in high school, and worked with a marketing firm to help develop a logo, product packaging and a website: www.kitsforkids.com. He worked with sales representatives throughout high school and sold his kits to toy stores around the country.

Bernstein believes that what makes his products unique and superior to the kits that frustrated him as a child is that the experiments are easy to follow and can be performed again and again. The kits allow children to perform a variety of experiments, including making crystals, growing plants and making polymer slime. They retail for under $20 each.

“Everything is included to do the experiment multiple times, so they can actually experiment and change things around, and they can do them fairly independently because the instructions are very kid-friendly,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein is a fellow in the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, a program developed to help students pursue entrepreneurial careers through various courses and co-curricular activities.

COURTESY CONNOR BERNSTIEN
COURTESY CONNOR BERNSTIEN

“I’ve been able to take a lot away from the [Entrepreneurship Fellows] classes in terms of how I approach new ideas and new opportunities and how to run the company,” Bernstein said. “It’s really helped me cultivate skills that are useful and that I can apply to my company.”

Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, has worked closely with Bernstein as an Entrepreneurship Fellow and believes Connor’s Kits for Kids is a strong and promising venture in the education marketplace.

“With the country’s emphasis on science education, I would expect his company to continue to be really successful,” Reid said.

Reid also commended Bernstein for his emphasis on the student experience in using his science kits.

“Many studies have shown that when a young student enjoys what they’re learning, they’re going to learn a whole lot more,” Reid said. “What Connor has done is really focus on the experience of the kids, he’s made it more fun for kids to engage with science.”

Bernstein handles all the marketing and management for Connor’s Kits for Kids himself. He recruited several interns from the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, as well, to work with the company this semester, which he will be spending abroad.

Alyssa Lovegrove, associate director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and adjunct professor in the entrepreneurship program, has advised Connor in the program and is working with him this semester to coordinate the interns.

“He has an opportunity to really grow this company, but it’s really been just him so what he’s been trying to do is create a deeper team so they can go deeper faster,” Lovegrove said. “I think the company has a lot of further growth potential, so I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Bernstein plans on expanding Connor’s Kits for Kids by developing more products and continuing to break into the education market, selling to schools and educational programs.
Reid said he has high hopes for Bernstein and Connor’s Kits for Kids.

“Connor is a great example of a Georgetown entrepreneur,” Reid said. His company is successful in making money, but it’s also successful in making a difference in the world. He’s helping to educate young people about science, and that’s a great thing for society. And that’s what entrepreneurs do — they create value and improve society.”

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