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Young entrepreneur flying high

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Abigail Lavery is well on her way to running her own business.

No big deal, except she's eight.

Flying Art, the Bermuda High School student's online art-sharing platform is now a viable enterprise.

Abigail envisioned a marketplace where children could show and sell their work. The idea came from her experience as an artist.

“I do digital art,” she said. “I take pictures of flowers and hills and stuff and make it into beautiful art.

“I just take pictures with my camera and upload them onto my tablet or iPad and then I start changing the colours and make them look like they're my own. I've done it for about two years. It helps me calm down and it helps me think.”

She partnered with her mother Pamela Lavery and the pair took the concept to Startup Weekend Bermuda last month.

Flying Art was one of five businesses that came out of the government-sponsored initiative. Would-be entrepreneurs met over a 54-hour period to pitch and develop their ideas.

“I am in banking but went to school for graphic design and advertising so have a natural interest,” Ms Lavery said. “It's something we've always talked about — having our own business. We weren't planning on pitching at that time but Sloane Wilson-Chinapoo, who's one of the organisers from the Department of E-Commerce and a facilitator for Startup Weekend, encouraged us. [She knew what] Abigail and I wanted to do and Sloane convinced me there was no time like the present.”

Existing and potential entrepreneurs work as teams during Startup Weekends to create a “minimum viable product” for a business. Entrepreneurs and business experts serve as coaches and give feedback to the groups. Flying Art placed third at the end of the process.

“It really helped fuel the thought brainstorm,” Ms Lavery said. “We didn't get huge financial backing but we got some great resources: hosting, web design development and legal assistance; what to do on a tiered membership basis that will help control content and vet people who use it; help with service providing and building a logo.

“The resources and coaches are all brilliant and provided a lot of feedback — whether we could grow it, if the business was scalable and could be monetised. We're pretty close [as mom and daughter]. We're a team. And I think it's great to work with Abigail. She inspires me a lot. It's certainly her creativity that inspired the project.”

Her daughter was equally thrilled with how their business idea panned out. The idea is to showcase the talent of people between the ages of five and 16.

“It gives children the opportunity to display their art and eventually sell it,” she said. “A lot of my friends [create] art. Some do drawings, some paintings and some [create] digital art, like me. There's also some who are dancers and some singers. We want to include them all.”

The resources gained at Startup Weekend will help, Ms Lavery said.

“We're looking to build at least a skeleton site by this summer. We're creating a place where kids will be able to upload their portfolio, a blog interaction where [Abigail] can post her work and a marketplace for selling art. So it's fairly collaborative and something we're looking for people to assist us with.

“We understand online can be a scary place, especially for parents, so we want to make sure it's a safe environment where kids can't be targeted. We will have a vetting process in place because it's geared to children. We want to make sure it's positive messaging.”

The couple received a positive response from people they shared the idea with.

“We approached parents and kids about whether they would use it and they thought it was a good idea,” Abigail said. “We got a lot of positive feedback. We also went on Facebook and used social media and got a lot of positive responses.”

Second place at Startup Weekend went to SWIM, a flotation device for disabled people and trauma victims in need of water therapy. The grand prize went to Shiply, a web-based platform that allows container importers to monetise unused space.

• For more information visit www.inspireebusiness.bm

Abigail Lavery, 8, and her mother Pamela are hoping to start an online art sharing business for children in the coming months. (Photograph supplied)
Abigail Lavery with one of the digital pieces of art that inspired her online art sharing business, Flying Art (Photograph supplied)
Digital art created by eight-year-old Abigail Lavery (Photograph supplied)
Pamela and Abigail Lavery (centre) took third place at Startup Weekend Bermuda. The pair hope to create an online art sharing platform for children. (Photograph supplied)

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Published April 14, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated April 14, 2016 at 1:54 pm)

Young entrepreneur flying high

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