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Teen Entrepreneur’s Liquid Assets

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16-yr-old businessman 2CLINTON — Mitch Neddermann is entering his second year as a business owner.

Which makes him kind of a veteran of the world of commerce. Which is a little unusual, since Mitch is just 16 years old. He started his own company, Boaters Bagels, last summer.

“I run it in the summer only, from June to September,” says Neddermann of the aquatic coffee-and-bagel delivery service, which he operates Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings at Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook.

“I’m on buy ambien water by 7 a.m. and work ’til about 11:30 to noon, depending on the day,” he explains.

Coming from a boating family (the Neddermanns click here a vessel at the marina) the decision to start a maritime enterprise came easily to Mitch. Like other morning boaters, he remembers here for a muffin or warm beverage while on the water during weekend outings.

“There was no food service [on the water], so I thought why not [buy a boat] and try,” says Mitch, who was 15 when he launched his company last year.

After presenting the idea to the marina manager and getting permission to do business there, Mitch went about establishing his business. In March 2012 he purchased a used 14-foot Boston Whaler for $1,500 with money he’d saved up from his job at a local restaurant and other part-time work.

He and his father, Todd Neddermann, an engineer at Sikorsky, reconfigured the vessel’s cockpit to optimally serve as an aquatic food cart. They built a frame around the exterior so that coffee and food could be easily stored and transferred to customers.

When not working on the boat Mitch turned his attention to necessities of starting his business, such as incorporating it as an LLC and obtaining business insurance. He also purchased a commercial coffeemaker and other needed equipment.

Additionally, getting his feet wet as a businessman meant that Mitch had to learn how to negotiate with suppliers. The bagels, muffins, doughnuts and pastries he sells are bought from area businesses, including Beach Donuts in Clinton and Cohen’s Bagels in Madison.

His start-up learning curve likewise extended to dealing with the vicissitudes of Mother Nature.

“[My business] is very dependent on the weather,” he notes. “Some days were slow, like when it rained, so I would have to watch the weather to see how much product to buy for the weekend. I learned how the weather can change your whole entire day.”

Mitch also became an employer of part-time staff. His sister Claudia helps with the business and sometimes friends help out as well. Last year he and Claudia worked out an efficient routine.

“She handled the food while I handled the money and talked with the customers,” Mitch notes.

With his earnings Mitch wants to expand and improve the enterprise. Among those improvements is equipping the boat with a more efficient, electric motor “so I don’t have to use as much gasoline, so I can save on cost,” he explains.

The whole experience has made Mitch excited about the world of entrepreneurship. This July he’s taking a ten-day business course at Vassar College.

“It’s a fun experience,” he says about Boaters Bagels. “It’s cool to have your own business.”

 

—  Felicia Hunter