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Kent Melville, Autistic 9-Year-Old, Starts Soda Business To Help Other Autistic Children

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Kent Melville's father was skeptical when his son first said that he wanted to use the profits from his successful summer lemonade stand to start his own soda company. Aaron Melville, who teaches business classes at a local college, did not believe his 9-year-old autistic son was ready to run his own business.

Kent was determined to do something to help others with autism, however, which inspired his father to reconsider. Aaron described on a Facebook page for the organization, why he decided to help his son start Kent's Soda after initially encouraging him to wait until he was older.

Kent pondered that for a minute. He then looked at me and said "Dad, I have everything I need right now, but there are lots of other kids with autism that can't do the things they want or need. I want to be able to help them get some of the things they want with the money we earn. Can't we start now? I don't want to wait." I had never been prouder. With a tear of gratitude in my eye, I agreed.

Though he has enlisted the help of his parents, students at a local community college, and members of the faculty, The Caledonian Record describes how the young entrepreneur is taking charge of his business.

Kent has chosen the flavors himself, and they currently include root beer, orange, lemonade, raspberry limeade, grape, strawberry and cream soda. Kent plans to add an additional flavor each year. The first one will be root beer mixed with orange.

He has come up with a marketing plans that will include a giant root beer volcano, and rejects others ideas when he doesn't agree with them.

One proposal suggested targeting a market of soda pop buyers in an age group from 13 to 24. Kent's response was, "What? Are you stupid? That would mean I couldn't drink my own soda."

Gimundo reports that Kent's sodas were featured at the 2011 Johnsbury World Maple Festival earlier this year. They are also sold at a local farm, a nearby restaurant, and the old-fashioned way -- from a stand set up near Kent's house.

Kent's Soda may outgrow the stand quickly, however. According to The Caledonian Record Kent and his family have high hopes for the small company.

A bottler was signed up and the first 24 cases of Kent's soda was turned out by the Walpole, N.H., company, which says he can keep up with 25,000 bottles at a time, but may have to rework things if sales really take off.

Flickr photo by wholehole.

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