Two Omaha sixth-graders selected to pitch their invention to Warren Buffett

Two Dundee Elementary sixth-graders are preparing for an important business meeting: They are pitching their invention to Warren Buffett.

Bryn Hansen, 11, and Emily Harkins, 12, are finalists in Buffett’s “Secret Millionaires Club” Grow Your Own Business Challenge. More than 4,000 children entered the contest, 13 were named finalists. The girls’ invention – the Keep Track Sticky Back – is one of three in the Team Finalists division.

“We really admire Mr. Buffett,” Emily said. “We can’t wait to meet him and discuss our business plan with him.”

The Keep Track Sticky Back consists of plastic pouches that are attached to a varying color of fabric or plastic backing. The back is sticky, so it can stick to nearly anything. Each plastic pouch has its very own magnetic snap button to connect the flap above the pouch to the main pouch. This keeps the internal contents of the pouch from falling out. There are multiple pouches in various sizes for different needs. For example, a tall, skinny pouch could be used for pencils, while a smaller, wider pouch could be used for crayons.

The girls came up with the idea while working on a project and a pencil broke. Emily said the girls spent several minutes trying to find a new one.

“We thought ‘What if there was a better way to keep track of things,’” said Bryn. “We went from there.”

The “Grow Your Own Business Challenge” is a national online competition that ran from Oct. 20, 2014 to Jan. 31. GYOB is a part of the “Secret Millionaires Club Learn and Earn” financial literacy promotion, which reaches more than 100,000 classrooms with tools and lessons for teaching good financial habits to youth.

The finalists will fly to Omaha this month to present their ideas to Buffett and a panel of judges. The group and individual winners will each win $5,000. The runners up will each receive $500.

The finalists were also asked to nominate a teacher or mentor who was most inspirational in the process to join them in Omaha and win up to $1,000. The girls nominated two teachers who helped them with the project: Sixth grade teacher Erin Bunton and Talented and Gifted Specialist Kristin Johnson.

The winners will be determined by a combination of judges’ scores and online votes. Through May 11, voters can help the girls by clicking here and voting once a day. 

“We are the first competitors from Nebraska to be accepted this far into the contest,” Emily said. “We want to win not just for us and our school, but for Nebraska as well.”