Young Entrepreneur hatches cheeky innovation for an eggcellent cause

Why did the Mount Larcom chicken cross the road? To buy a new bikini from Max’s Chickens!

Max Cosgrove is no ordinary grade six student.

At just 12 years of age, this young entrepreneur has become a viral sensation with his quirky, bespoke fashion for chickens.

What started as a humble hobby to earn a bit of pocket money selling eggs at the local markets, quickly evolved into a business, turning this young farmer into a young entrepreneur.

“Max’s Chickens started as a bit of a fun hobby when I asked Mum and Dad to buy me two chooks so I could try and earn some extra pocket money from their eggs,” Max said.

“I then decided I’d like to get an incubator and try breeding the chickens and I now have 10 breeding pens and more than 100 chickens on the farm.

“I have also invented a chicken feeder with my friend that stops the chickens from scratching feed out and wasting it, which means they are not wasting food and money.”

So how did this savvy school kid go from selling his agricultural products on social media to designing unconventional chicken clothing that he now ships across the globe?

When Max’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, he hatched a plan to show his support to his mother which led to him raising money for breast cancer research.

“When my mum had breast cancer and was doing chemotherapy in 2018, I looked at her one day and she was wearing a beanie and I thought it would be funny to make one for the chooks,” Max said.

“So I asked my nana if she would knit a beanie [or Cheanie as Max calls it] for the chooks. I also asked my parents if they would buy me a sewing machine and I joined the local sewing club to learn how to sew.

“I then began designing and making the clothes which included the roo ties, the winter Chumper, the summer Chickini bikini and the special Chickmas hats for Christmas.”

Max’s first Facebook post featuring his custom Cheanie creation was a social media sensation. With more than half a million views, it was not long until the orders started coming in from across the globe.

“I started the Cheanie as I thought it would be a funny but once I put it up on Facebook everyone started asking to buy them, that’s when I decided to sell them and donate some of the money to breast cancer research,” Max said.

“I have now sold my clothes to customers all across Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Korea and even made a calendar featuring my chooks dressed in the clothing.”

After learning to sew at the Local sewing club, Max now designs and sews all of his Chickini creations.

While Max’s success as a young business owner can be attributed to his passion for chickens and his strong work ethic, it was the EarlyPreneur Program that helped him foster his entrepreneurialism.

Launched as an incubator project in 2018, the EarlyPreneur Program was developed by Start-up Gladstone in partnership with Ambrose State School, with the support of sponsors, ANZ and ConocoPhillips Australia.

During the program, students work in small groups, or individually, to create a product to market and sell with aim of earning a $100 profit over an eight-week period.

The students are guided by a facilitator that teaches them how to develop their ideas into a marketable product or business and encourages them to explore their own innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.

Start-up Gladstone President, Luis Arroyo said the Program is part of a ten year vision that aims to support the development of Tech-Preneurs in a Digital Age by providing business and digital foundations through an early intervention strategy.

“The EarlyPrenuer Program is a foundational component of Gladstone Region’s Startup Ecosystem and forms part of the Pipeline of the next generation of Tech-prenuers,” Mr Arroyo said.

“Since piloting the Program at Ambrose State School in 2018, an additional three schools in the Gladstone region have implemented the program. By 2020 seven schools in the region will incorporate the program in their classrooms and by 2022 we expect 13 schools to be actively participating in the program.

“With the support of government and corporate sponsors Startup Gladstone is hoping to scale-up the EarlyPrenuer Programme regionally, nationally and internationally within the next three years. Beyond its scalability feature, this Programme is re-shaping the mindset of our community about entrepreneurship, risk adversity and local vs global economies.”

Max’s mother, Belinda Cosgrove said Max’s success highlights the importance of fostering children’s passion for innovation and supporting their ideas and entrepreneurialism. As a teacher herself, she sees first-hand the positive impact programs such as the EarlyPreneur Program, has on students.

The chicken feeder Max designed with his school friend during the EarlyPrenuer Program.

“Max’s confidence has grown enormously, he wasn’t always quite as outgoing but the opportunities that have come his way and his participation in the EarlyPreneur Program have sparked his confidence and helped develop his skills,” Ms Cosgrove said.

“As teachers, and maybe even as adults in general, I think we sometimes underestimate what children are capable of but the reality is, when given the opportunity they can do amazing things and I think the EarlyPreneur Program demonstrates this.

“This program has a profoundly positive impact on a broad spectrum of learning, it inspires students to explore their interests, gives them a platform to grow and test their own ideas and teaches them how to position themselves confidently — and I guess that’s the key to success in any business.

“As parents and teachers, I think it is really important to support the goals of young people, if they do want to set up a little business the best thing we can do is support and their drive and encourage them to develop their ideas.

“As a community it’s important we validate their hard work and support them by purchasing their products and giving them positive feedback when they turn up at the local market with their business. I think it’s critical we support their passions, interests and hard work while encouraging and instilling a can-do and have-a-go attitude.”

Since launching Max’s Chickens and releasing his cheeky chicken couture, Max has appeared on commercial television including Big Little Shots, Sunrise and The Project. He has been featured on Australian Story, interviewed by Alan Jones and grown his Max’s Chickens Facebook following to more than 12,000.

Max with one of his couture chicken designs.

Looking to the future, Max plans to continue his chicken business and hopes to obtain a university degree in business so he can share his love of innovation and entrepreneurialism with others. When asked what advice he had for other young entrepreneurs, Max had this very wise advice.

“Work to your strengths, love what your business is about and believe in your ideas — and always look for what the customer wants,” Max said.

Gladstone is an important regional area that sits within the Fitzroy region of the Advance Queensland Advancing Regional Innovation Program (ARIP).

Visit the Advance Queensland website the find out more about how the ARIP program is supporting your region.

 
Last updated 30 Sep, 2019
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0) ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/au/ )
 
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