Mya Prehn has founded a thriving business, made a successful pitch to the investment moguls on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, been chosen by Mattel and Canada Dry Mott’s to represent their brands, and been featured prominently in the media.
Not bad for a seven-year-old entrepreneur.
The Grade 2 student at Stettler Elementary School has been busy since February 2014, when she auditioned for Dragons’ Den. Her mother Erin explained that Mya and her dad Brian were regular viewers of the program, and she wanted to take part herself.
“Mya came up with various ideas, like a robot to apply make-up and things like that that we obviously didn’t have the knowledge or the skills to create,” said Erin.
As luck would have it, at about the same time Erin was trying to convince Mya not to skip over the nutritious foods in her lunch in favour of less-healthy items. Mya suggested they tackle the issue by treating it as a game, and a creative system of rating each food product resulted.
Specifically, Erin began affixing zero to three apple stickers on each item in Mya’s lunch every day — with the number of apples depicting nutritional value. The stickers earned by Mya were tracked on a board and prizes awarded when she reached a certain number.
Mya presented this system, called Lunch Apeel, at her audition. Erin and Brian assumed that would be the end of their Dragons’ Den adventure, but one of the show’s producers called soon after to invite Mya to Toronto for filming.
That occurred in March, with Mya’s meeting with the dragons broadcast on Nov. 12 as part of an all-student episode. The petite blonde — who was six at the time — earned the distinction of being the youngest entrepreneur ever to appear on Dragons’ Den.
Mya admitted to being a little nervous, but said some diligent practice beforehand helped her face down the dragons and the cameras.
“My mom and dad printed off these sheets of the dragons’ faces and then we would tape them onto stuffies’ heads, and my brother would hold one up and my sister would hold one up and my dad would hold one up and my mom would use the camera and pretend she was the taper,” explained Mya.
The five dragons proved receptive to the Lunch Apeel. Each pledged $1,000, with the caveat that half of Mya’s profits be donated to Breakfast Clubs of Canada.
“The dragons were absolutely amazing,” said Erin. “They were incredibly kind and encouraging.”
A couple have remained in contact, including Chilton.
“He actually personally phoned Mya a couple different times, just to see how things were going and provide support.”
When the episode involving Mya was broadcast, there was a spike in demand for Lunch Apeel kits — which are sold online.
“It was a bit of a bump we weren’t really expecting, because we were just building them in our basement,” said Erin.
About a month later, Canada Dry Mott’s called to see if Mya would sample its Mott’s Fruitsations Fruit Rockets, and if she liked them endorse the product.
“They wanted to promote healthy eating,” said Erin.
And Mattel selected Mya as one of four Canadian girls to be on Super Hero Barbie’s Super Squad, inspiring others through their positive actions.
“It’s grown bigger than we imagined, for sure,” said Erin of the whole experience.
“It’s been quite a journey for sure.”
Mya is now scheduled to meet with dragon Arlene Dickinson on April 30 in Calgary to make a $5,000 donation to Breakfast Clubs of Canada.
“This time, I hope I get her autograph and maybe even a selfie with her,” she said.
Mya’s appearance on Dragons’ Den can be viewed online at www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/pitches/lunch-apeel. For more information about Lunch Apeel, or to order Lunch Apeel kits, go to www.lunchapeel.com.