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Buffett backs new business kits for children

Warren Buffett is backing competing business kits for kids, Business in a Box (above) and one by Kentucky children.

Reed Saxon/Associated Press

Warren Buffett is backing competing business kits for kids, Business in a Box (above) and one by Kentucky children.

OMAHA — Earlier this year, Warren Buffett congratulated a group of three Kentucky children for developing kits to help their peers set up businesses.

Now Buffett is helping teach the young entrepreneurs how tough business can be by backing a competing product.

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Both the new ‘‘Business in a Box’’ kits and the contest the Kentucky children won in May are tied to ‘‘The Secret Millionaire’s Club’’ cartoon that features advice from an animated version of the billionaire investor.

Amy Heyward, one of the founders of cartoon maker A Squared Entertainment, said the company started developing the ‘‘Business in a Box’’ kits more than three years ago, so there is no direct link to the contest-winning idea.

But Heyward said she immediately recognized the similarities when siblings Kennedy Sabharwal and Spencer Sabharwal and their cousin Sawyer Beeler presented their “Kidtrepreneur” kit idea.

‘‘They should come work for us. They were great,’’ Heyward said. ‘‘It’s amazing what comes out of kids’ heads.’’

Buffett’s assistant said Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and chief executive was traveling Tuesday and was not available to comment.

‘It’s amazing what comes out of kids’ heads.’

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The children set up their own website prominently featuring pictures of Buffett to sell their entrepreneurial kits with materials to set up a lemonade stand and other businesses.

The young entrepreneurs did not immediately respond to a question about their new competition Tuesday, but they probably will not hold a grudge against Buffett or the Secret Millionaire’s Club after winning $5,000 and 10 Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock in May.

The Kidtrepreneur kit makers will have a hard time competing with the professionally developed ‘‘Business in a Box’’ kits even if the homemade Kentucky version is $5 cheaper.

The new $19.99 Secret Millionaire’s Club kits come with a booklet of Buffett’s business advice and a DVD with three episodes of the cartoon. The first two kits focus on setting up a lemonade stand and a carwash.

Heyward said the business kits seem to be a natural fit with the cartoon that is designed to teach kids about key financial principles such as avoiding debt, supply and demand, and the importance of pursuing your dreams. She said Buffett’s talent for simplifying issues helps the program.

‘‘They’re simple enough messages that they resonate with kids,’’ Heyward said.

The kits will be sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us through the end of the year before being distributed more widely next year.

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