Livvy Gordon, an original voice.
By Maureen McDonald
Photography by Brett Mountain
Livvy Gordon, a senior at Cranbrook-Kingswood Upper School, resurrected the Young Entrepreneurs Club and transformed the way the school celebrates its fellow students.
“I created a competition called Crane Tank (a takeoff on TV show “Shark Tank, using the school mascot, cranes), which showcased impressive student startups in front of a full-school audience,” says Gordon, a student with a yen for journalism and special events.
Her next project is an assembly with students, parents and neighbors. People will pay $5 to come and watch Cranbrook students present their entrepreneurial or philanthropic projects for a purse of up to $1,000 starter money.
“Livvy quickly emerged as one of the most original voices of innovation and enterprise at Cranbrook Kingswood in the past couple years,” says Charles Shaw, former head of the Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School and now its director of stewardship.
“Through her leadership in our entrepreneurs’ organization, Cranes of Wall Street has become a success. Our annual Crane Tank event would not be possible without her grit and determination. The whole student body works themselves into a frenzy for this event, which surfaces the best innovative organizations in the school,” he added. Trends for Teens was one of the awardees. The nonprofit organization initiated by Cranbrook and Marion students provides a store inside a Pontiac school that sells new and used clothes for credits earned by students for reaching academic, social and personal goals. (See the follow-up story on Trends-for-Teens on our website: neighborhoodseen.com.)
When Livvy got involved in the Young Entrepreneurs Club her junior year, she found the club in the doldrums of apathy. The members brought in a couple of local speakers and hosted a workshop on business processes. With Shaw’s help she took on the job of secretary and later became president. The club had $6,500 in its coffers and she brainstormed with others in administration and the student body about ways to highlight students and their endeavors for the greater good.
Serendipity happened with spectacular force. Her mother, Susan Gordon, the director of management for an entrepreneurial start-up organization, Mission Throttle, took Livvy to a Detroit Soup meeting where various groups gave five-minute presentations on what they would do with a $500 cash infusion. (Detroit Soup is a non-profit that empowers residents in Detroit to improve their neighborhoods.) Often the audience was so enthusiastic about some causes they raised even more money.
Gordon wound up doing a summer internship with Amy Kaherl, director of Detroit Soup, and learned more about the novel way of raising money with food, entertainment and well-crafted presentations.
“Livvy is starting something because she wants to see her classmates make a difference in the world; she wants them to begin to think about being entrepreneurs and showcase their ideas,” says Kaherl of Detroit Soup. “As a community, we should always encourage the use of our imagination, starting new ideas, encouraging others and ourselves to live out our potential.”
Gordon says she hopes 100 to 150 people come to the February Crane Tank. Whatever money the gate raises, the club will double it to make even bigger prizes for the winners, who could win up to $500 to use for their projects.
“I’m ridiculously obsessed with the idea of helping entrepreneurs to focus and discuss their projects and I’m looking for every way to get this cause broader and to involve more of the community,” Gordon says. NS