Detroit brothers Austin and Undra Mack used their savings to purchase a lawn mower. The young entrepreneurs have since grown their first business into three.
By Kristina Zheng
Photography by Morgan Heinzmann
It’s not uncommon for kids to spend their savings from household chores on toys or video games. But brothers Austin and Undra Mack are different. At 8 and 9 years old, the two brothers invested their savings in a lawn mower, a purchase that launched their first business.
“We really found a passion for cutting lawns and making our own earnings, instead of always asking our mother for money,” says Undra, now 13. “It made us feel better to earn our own incomes.”
Each summer, the Mack brothers’ lawn service business grows, as more and more local Detroit homes request their business.
“They have a very strong work ethic and are perfectionists,” says Tuawana Hughes, a Mack Brothers Lawn Service client for three summers. “They are very respectful. I live on a corner home, and we have a lot of traffic, a lot of walking. They would stop the lawn mower and let the people walk by. My neighbors even say that they are polite and do such an excellent job.”
The brothers are home-schooled and discovered an interest in business and entrepreneurship from an online course. That interest soon spurred the young entrepreneurs to create their three growing companies: Mack Bros. Lawn Service, Picture to Pitcher Books and APPly IT.
“We come from a long generation of our grandparents teaching their sons, and our dad would teach us about entrepreneurship and the mentality of working,” Undra says. “That’s always something we like to do, and with our mother embracing it, that really helped us take it seriously.”
Undra and Austin began developing their second business, Picture to Pitcher Books, by writing and illustrating a children’s book called “Mack Brother’s Lawn Service & AJ’s Lemonade.” The brothers often sell the book to lawn service clients and at other events to spread their passion for business.
“Our books help inspire others about entrepreneurship,” says Austin, now 12 “We wanted to show other kids how they can be inspired, not just to have a lawn service, but how to really get out there and have an entrepreneurial experience.”
The Mack brothers’ third business, APPly IT, stems from their interest in coding.
“APPly IT is our software development company, where we create apps and cognitive-related games,” Austin says.
The brothers are currently working on a prototype of their app C-Call.
“We created our own app called C-Call, and it allows you to call and videotape simultaneously,” Undra adds. “It allows you to call the police and videotape a crime or medical emergency happening at the same time.”
The brothers’ mother, LaToyia Mack, is a big supporter of her sons’ entrepreneurial ventures. She says she saw her sons’ drive to start their business and purchased a weed trimmer to help further their business goals.
“I started seeing their growing passion to do it, their initiative to do it, writing the schedule, writing the receipts. And I said, ‘OK, I’ll purchase a weed whacker,’ ” LaToyia says.
LaToyia also instills in her sons a humble mindset when it comes to building a business.
“The first thing you want to establish is humility when you’re working,” says LaToyia, 43, a Detroit teacher. “…They both have a very serious take on business, so I had no choice but to take them serious about business.”
As the brothers look to their future, they hope to further their entrepreneurial goals and rely on each other as a family.
“We’re always going to be the Mack brothers, and that’s always going to bring us together,” Undra says.