An 11-year-old entrepreneur from Darwin has taken home the top prize in the sole trader category of the Australian Small Business Champion Awards in Sydney on Saturday.
Angus Copelin-Walters won the Champion Sole Operator trophy for his artisanal lolly brand, Croc Candy, which he founded three-and-a-half years ago.
He created the business to help people, and donates most of his profits to charity.
The junior entrepreneur says he is “very proud” to win an award for the business he operates during after-school hours as well as during weekends and holidays.
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“I was very surprised that I won the trophy. There were lots of finalists and I’m very proud to be a Northern Territory business to receive it,” Copelin-Walters tells SmartCompany.
Copelin-Walters made the trip to Sydney for Saturday’s ceremony after being named a finalist in the sole trader category, and up against businesses owned and operated by adults.
His mother, Joanne Walters, says an unknown person nominated her son for the award, which then prompted her to file an application on his behalf.
His submission was considered by a panel of judges who assessed all applications against a set criteria.
At the event, Copelin-Walters met prominent figures including small business ombudsman Kate Carnell, who commended his achievements on social media.
Meeting him was “a highlight” of the evening, she said.
Fantastic to be at a real live event celebrating Australian small businesses on Saturday night. A highlight of the night was meeting 11-year-old Angus Copelin-Walters of Croc Candy who took out the Sole Operator category of the #SmallBusinessChampionAwards pic.twitter.com/cGQYHjHWVE
— Kate Carnell (@KateCarnellAus) March 1, 2021
“I was very honoured to get photos and meet them, and have the Prime Minister recognise me,” he says.
Copelin-Walters sells his candy products online and in Territory Pharmacies across Darwin. He also carries out the business operations and marketing activities.
“I do emails, ordering, quotes, packaging and delivering,” he says.
The young entrepreneur became interested in business at the age of seven when he pitched his first idea to his mother.
“I wanted a lemonade stand but Mum said no. So, that was my first business challenge,” he says.
About a year later, Copelin-Walters saw an advertisement on television for a charity that donated money to homeless people.
“I wanted to get some money to help them. So, I went to a kids buy, swap and sell market and sold rock candy.
“I made $20 profit and gave it all to that charity I saw on TV that day,” he says.
Since then, he has donated profits from the business to the Cancer Foundation, Ovarian Cancer Australia and Black Dog.
As an entrepreneur with dyslexia, he has also donated to Made By Dyslexia, a charity helping teachers and other people support and empower dyslexic people.
Copelin-Walters says part of what motivates him is being able to inspire other young people with dyslexia, and highlight opportunities for them.
His message to young entrepreneurs considering a new venture is to “research your idea, ask people about it and give it a go”.
As for the future of Croc Candy, Copelin-Walters says he wants to expand and scale the business.
“I’d like to manufacture some basic products somehow, but I need help and advice in that area,” he says.