With an evident entrepreneurial spirit, 17 year-old Morgan School junior Mitch Neddermann has three businesses, holds an additional part-time job, takes Advanced Placement classes, and somehow still finds time to check out future colleges, have fun with friends, spend time with family, play spring lacrosse, and do his most favorite thing ever: go saltwater fishing for stripers and flounder.
Mitch, who admits he is just one of those people who likes to stay busy, has a lot on his plate for a teenager, but he seems to be balancing things well.
"My parents have always told me I can do whatever it is I want, I just have to figure out a way to get it done, and so I have," Mitch says.
It was two years ago when he first got the idea to test the waters for his inventive business called Boaters Bagels. He did some research over the winter months and was ready for business once summer hit. Mitch purchased a 14-foot Boston Whaler for $1,500 with money he had saved. He then enlisted the help of his father, an engineer at Sikorsky, to transform the vessel into a seaworthy breakfast-delivery vehicle. Next, he obtained permission to run his business out of Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook and he was on his way, incorporating Boaters Bagels as an official LLC and purchasing business insurance.
Mitch works Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings throughout the summer delivering hot coffee and fresh pastries from Malone's in Clinton, fresh bagels from Cohen's in Madison, and fresh donuts from Beach Donuts in Clinton to hungry boaters who are water bound on weekend vacations.
"I chose these establishments to get my goods from because I wanted to support small, local businesses," Mitch explains.
As his business grew over the last two summers, Mitch was able to hire employees (his younger sister Claudia) and save enough money to buy his first truck before he even had his license. Now he has two trucks, his work boat, and a 23-foot, Down East, handmade, wooden fishing boat of which he's very proud.
He has decided to open his own plowing and landscaping business this year and already has a steady list of clients.
To ramp up his young businessman skills, Mitch attended a 10-day business course this past summer at Vassar College, along with 99 other students from all over the world. Like any good, young entrepreneur, Mitch was resourceful and was able to fund a portion of the money needed for the course with the help of a grant from the Clinton Education Foundation.
"Taking this course was an awesome experience," said Mitch. "We were broken into five groups of 20 people each and we had to pitch our ideas in front of Vassar students. I was voted CEO of my group for my idea of a T-shirt with a built-in life jacket for children."
Mitch's group won third place overall for its business and concept and first place for management.
When he is not busy expanding and growing his own businesses, Mitch also works after school as a busboy at Café Allegre in Madison, getting a different kind of work experience. He has his sights set on applying to Bryant University in nearby Rhode Island, at which he would like to major in business. He is very open to the possibilities his future holds.
His advice to other teens who have a business concept they would like to try out is "give it shot!
"That's the great thing about living in America: we can try it out if we want to," Mitch says. "You live and learn and figure things out as you go along. This whole experience has been awesome. I have learned from some mistakes, been successful, and been able to do and buy some of the things I have wanted to, like my fishing boat."
He adds, "If you work hard, good things will come!"