Truman Wilson is much like most 12-year-olds – crazy about technology, his group of friends, and candy.
One difference between the Highland Park Middle School student and his peers, however, is that Truman runs his own company. He sells an original chocolate bar – the Truman Bar – at area stores and through word-of-mouth marketing.
“I wanted to make a business with things that every kid loves like prizes, candy, technology; things like that,” the seventh-grader said.
The Truman Factory was born out of a love of the TV show Shark Tank, shared by Truman and his father, Derek. The pair chose to create a chocolate bar and market it with golden tickets that can be redeemed for prizes online at thetrumanfactory.com.
Derek said they started off trying to develop a collectible object, and after visiting Europe and seeing the Kinder Egg – a hollow chocolate egg with a toy inside – they decided to add a bit of mystery to their candy bar.
“Kids love mystery things,” he said.
After initial sales quickly cleared out displays this past fall, some vendors have doubled their orders (or more). As of early December, 13 vendors were selling the chocolate bars.
Derek said he does most of the legwork during daytime hours when Truman is at school. But they huddle up for a mini business meeting in the evenings, and also consult a small group of Truman’s friends – called the Epic Team – for feedback.
“There’s definitely an entrepreneurial culture in the younger age brackets right now.,” Derek said. “They like to look up to young kids doing great things like this.”
Truman is donating a portion of Truman Bar revenue to Vogel Alcove, an area nonprofit that works with homeless children.
“I told him it would be nice to support someone in town, and he said homeless kids,” Derek said. “We visited the facility and saw some of the kids and Truman was blown away. He’s a sensitive kid.”
In the future, the plan is to add other items such as T-shirts to the Truman Factory’s repertoire. But for now, the tow-headed preteen is just enjoying the ride and being a kid who just happens to run his own candy company.