OPINION: Let’s help Dexter’s Ben Rich start a soda business

dexter soda
A young Dexter entrepreneur wants to start a soda company with public support.

Earlier today the WeLoveDexter.com team received a message from Ben Rich, a young man in Dexter who has a very specific goal: start a soda company in Dexter.

What seemed like a kitschy lemonade-stand sort of thing at first has impressed me enough upon further inspection — enough to put out an immediate call-to-action to our readers. Let’s get Ben over his goal and then some as soon as possible.

Ben included a link to a GoFundMe page that includes a video and brief write-up. This isn’t the first “kid aspires to start a business” effort I’ve seen in my decade in community journalism, but there’s something different this time that sets this effort apart from all of the others.

During Ben’s 26 second introductory video embedded on the GoFundMe page, he exhibits a resolve and matter-of-factness in his pitch that is incredibly impressive. Right off the bat, it’s clear that this young man isn’t mugging for attention or trying to pull a cute stunt.

You can see very clearly in Ben’s eyes that he has a vision, and he’s setting out to bring it into this world in the form of a tangible product that he seems to very much believe in.

“I would like to start a soda company in my hometown of Dexter, MI,” Ben writes. “It has been a long term ambition of mine to start a business both for the money and the experience. I think I can run a business despite my age and have a lot of fun with it.”

Ben’s soda is planned to be a pure product, seizing on the growing public awareness of what we’re putting into our bodies in this country. There will be no artificial sweeteners and only real sugar.

He is halfway to this goal in only two days, so obviously his concise pitch has hit the mark with other people. The $550 fundraising goal, once realized, will allow him to purchase what’s necessary to produce carbonated water. The money will also cover license fees, provide access to a commercial kitchen, and furnish a table to front his product at the Dexter Farmer’s Market.

Starting a business is quite a task, and quite a feat if you can pull it off. We’ve come a long way with WeLoveDexter.com. We’ve come a long way from our starting funding level of 16 hours per week staff budget total, which got us three or four stories produced per week when we began publishing in late 2014.

It’s been very exciting growing our business along with our audience and public adoption in the Dexter area between now and then. Ben seems like a good kid, and I’d like to help him begin to realize his vision and satisfy his ambition as he begins to take his first transformative steps down the path of entrepreneurship with all of us standing behind him.

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