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Pine Point student creates website for small business owners

Not too many 13-year-olds have created their own websites. Yash Naik, an eighth grader at Pine Point School is one of the few.

Naik has had a longtime passion for business and economics, deciding to create a website that would assist those in his New London County community during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. His passion has been bolstered over the past year, as he learned more about important economic concepts and engaged in discussions with teachers, classmates and family.

Naik attributes much credit to his school for its hands-on approach to education as well as a diverse curriculum. He pointed out that this is not a school project. Although his school may have influenced him, it was his own decision to start the project.

He tied all of these interests together by creating a website that assists small business owners and the self employed in acquiring Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Naik first learned about PPP loans on the news, deciding to help because he realized that the small business owners and especially the self-employed are in need of a loan but lack the financial literacy and connections with lenders to acquire one.

This sentiment is best reflected in the website’s mission statement of “informing small business owners of the Paycheck Protection Program in the time of the COVID-19 economic crisis.”

At first, Naik was worried that the business owners wouldn’t trust or want the advice of someone as young as him. However, he quickly realized that he could gain credibility and their trust by providing enough information and making a strong enough pitch to gain their attention.

He got to work on designing the website using GoDaddy’s website builder, which allowed him to easily create the website. However, he faced some challenges in the customization of the website, as the software was slightly restrictive.

Naik hopes to build off of his experience with this first website in order to be able to use more complex website design software that will allow him more freedom in the design of the website.

In order to acquire the information needed to assist business owners on the website, Yash began looking for strong sources. These included information released by the Treasury and the Small Business Administration, as well as news articles from Forbes, CNN, NPR and other sources.

After around 100 hours of website development and planning, Naik was ready to launch his website. Information found within includes: a comprehensive PPP guide that gives accurate and detailed information regarding the PPP application, as well as a database with news articles, government websites and FAQs.

Naik has gotten a few self-employed people their loans for an estimated total of $15,000. He began by reaching out directly to small business owners who were self-employed or sole proprietors who either worked, or knew people who worked within his neighborhood. This allowed him to work with people he knew and could easily meet in person or digitally.

One of these clients is Tim Grimes who lives in New London. Grimes calls himself “a gardener on his [Yash Naik’s] family’s property. I didn’t understand that there was money out there for my business.”

Another client is Art Cost of Cost Masonry LLC, who lives in Ledyard and comes from a family of stone workers. Some of his favorite jobs include building a large stone turtle and chimney for the Mohegan Sun retirement home and designing and implementing a large outdoor patio and fireplace at Mystic Indoor Sports.

Naik is not alone in this project. He has enlisted the help of local bankers and accountants to help advise him in his decisions, as well as answering any questions the clients have which he cannot answer himself. The team consists of Justin Wilcox from FML, a firm in Glastonbury, Yann Beaullan-Thong, an executive for Accsurant, a state technology solutions company, and Rich Balestracci, a commercial loan officer from Chelsea Groton Bank.

The feedback to Naik’s work has been mostly positive. Business owners have been appreciative of the information, forms, and checklists that are provided within the website. He is currently working with five to 10 business owners.

What’s next? He states, “I am considering making a non-profit organization that helps small businesses with their technology and financial literacy. This could help them manage their finances better and help them use technology to organize, market, and increase overall productivity.”

Naik’s website can be found at pppguide.org.

Aidan Schuler of Ledyard is a 2020 graduate of The Williams School and part of the Times’ Young Journalists Initiative.

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