12th Grader Chris Patterson-Piquette Has an Idea Worth Hearing About

By Ben Hamill - May 24 2016

Think Outside The Box

Bingo continues to prove its enormous flexibility. Far from being "just" a birthday game, bingo is constantly being used to create offbeat games under a bingo rubric. Thus, Jimmy Kimmel had a fat baby bingo game on his show recently. From Chicago we hear about a one-woman play called Bible Bingo. There are the ubiquitous ho-hum bingo offerings such as NFL Draft Bingo.

You Never Know When a Great New Idea Will Come Calling

Every so often we hear about a wonderful new bingo idea that transcends what we had known about bingo theretofore.

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At the Make Your Pitch competition for young would-be entrepreneurs, a teen from Sudbury will pitch his idea for a bingo coffee house geared to seniors. The Make Your Pitch competition is a serious event in which business experts hear business ideas from teen-aged aspiring entrepreneurs. The top prize is $3000 and mentoring toward realizing the business dream of the best competitors.

Chris Patterson-Piquette is in the 12th grade at Lasalle Secondary School. He is now one of the twenty finalists for the financial and mentoring prizes.

Inspiration Strikes

Young Chris got the idea when he visited his mother when she was working at a nursing home. He noted that the residents of that nursing home and, through his diligent research, the residents of the many other local nursing homes or senior living facilities, didn't have enough opportunities to leave the facilities and have a "night out".

Chris's research also discovered that Sudbury has an aging population so he felt that the idea of a coffee shop that enabled seniors to pursue bingo, one of their favourite pastimes, might be a viable idea. The idea, as Chris has developed it thus far, is to have bingo scratch cards on the coffee cups.

Concern for Us All

Chris Patterson-Piquette may be thinking about fun activities for seniors but he is wholly a child of the 21st century. He wants the coffee shop to use biodegradable cups and to derive energy from solar panels on the roof.

A High School as an Incubator of New Ideas

Lasalle Secondary School is also a fully 21st century school. Whereas the schools my peers and I attended in a time long ago taught the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, Lasalle Secondary School also has a young entrepreneur's class where students can brainstorm and develop 21st century ideas. In our highly competitive world such an adjunct to the classic education is a must. Chris presented his idea to the entrepreneurs' class. His teacher encouraged the young people to present their ideas to the Make Your Pitch competition. Of the 200 ideas presented, Chris's is one of the twenty finalists.

Chris and the Others Will Make Their Cases in May

The twenty finalists will participate in a mentoring workshop in Toronto on May 8 where they will have a chance to improve their ideas and presentations. Each finalist will then have a few minutes to make his or her case on May 9. Then the judges will decide whose idea is worthy of financial and mentoring encouragement.

Chris Patterson-Piquette is a Young Man We Can All Be Proud Of

Chris has already been accepted to a dental hygiene program for his post-high school studies. That Chris is interested in dental hygiene indicates that he is quite serious about helping people be healthy and to maintain their health into old age.

A Few Unsolicited Suggestions

Here are a few of my own mentoring ideas submitted gratis to Chris in the hope that he will use one or more idea to improve his bingo coffee house idea.

  • Rather than restrict the bingo aspect of the coffee house to scratch cards on their biodegradable coffee cups, Chris should look into the possibility of a bingo section of the coffee house where bingo players can stretch out across tables whilst other patrons, who have come just for the coffee, can enjoy their fare at smaller tables.
  • The coffee house might sponsor transportation to and from the nursing homes or senior facilities. One reason many seniors don't "get out" enough is because they are physically restricted. Transportation would greatly enable participation by the largest number of seniors.
  • Chris might develop a "bring your grandchildren" night where the seniors come with one or more grandchildren. Quality time between grandparents and grandchildren, with a backdrop of bingo, could become an important local attraction.
  • Chris should try to keep the cost of bingo cards down. This would necessarily mean that the bingo prizes would be relatively low. For an idea such as Chris's, low cost cards and small prizes would enhance the concept of coffee with bingo rather than bingo with coffee.
  • Chris should do everything he can to avoid the electronification of bingo at his coffee shop. We've been down this path before, and I have expressed my reluctant acceptance of electronic games at bingo halls to save the halls and the good charity work so many of them do. But Chris has a different idea; he wants to establish a coffee house with bingo. I know of no coffee houses that have electronic casino-style games accompanying one's coffee. I encourage Chris to see his endeavor as a coffee house not a modern-day bingo parlour.
  • Finally, I would encourage Chris to put charitable bingo front and centre in his presentation. An entrepreneur who is looking to provide a product not thought of before, a service to a particular local population, in a friendly and attractive setting might be especially attractive to the businesspeople who will judge his idea if he expands on his socially conscious desire to be environmentally friendly with a concomitant commitment to helping the many small local organizations that benefit from charitable bingo.

I wish Chris the best of luck in his presentation. One final word of encouragement: many great businesses began with people saying "no". So, Chris, even if the judges say "no", I encourage you to pursue your idea. It has great potential!

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