LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A local author, CEO, and all-around business tycoon is set to host business startup workshops and he is just 12 years old.

Rico Cruse is a “pop-preneur”. He hatched his idea for a candied, puff corn snack business when he was eight years old. Puffed corn, not popcorn. The thought came after getting kernels stuck in his teeth. Rico’s Rockin’ Pop launched in 2018. He sells and ships it locally.

He’s since published a book detailing how he got started and how other kids can too. It’s called “Rico Rocks at Problem Solving” and he is going on a book tour to take his business savviness to Clark County Schools. 

“I hope young African-American kids get inspired to start their own business and know they can do whatever they want as long as they put their mind to it,” Rico said.

In a “Shark Tank” inspired competition during the Las Vegas Science and Technology Festival,  seven local kids aged 10-17 pitched business owners to invest in their idea.

Rico pitched his idea of hosting a Clark County school book tour with his best-selling children’s book Rico Rocks at Problem Solving. His goal is to offer problem-solving and critical thinking workshops in local elementary schools using his book as an educational tool. 

Rico accepted $2,000 from venture capital firm M&D Ventures to print 500 copies of his book.

Judge Melvin Valentine Jr. of Nevada Partners pledged to help with connecting Rico with CCSD decision-makers, in order to host workshops at five CCSD schools per year beginning next year.

Families can get involved now with his free Start-Up Kids Camp. Registration is now through June 3. The three-day event is from June 27 through June 29 at Nevada Partners in North Las Vegas.

The kids learn about developing their business vision, their elevator pitch, financial literacy, networking, and advertising.

“That’s what we came up with for Start-Up Kids Camp, a way to help kids build their business when the parents may not know how to do it,” said his mother, Jennifer Cruse. 

The camp is ahead of a different event in July. Young Biz Kid Day is a youth marketplace with more than 30 kid CEOs selling their products. Rico is the Nevada Ambassador.

Rico has some advice. He says service is usually easier. He gave the example of a dancer. Come up with your elevator pitch, and why someone should want to attend your class. Then, nail down a marketing plan, and have the customer in mind.

He covers all that and more in his three-day camp.