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April 13, 2012

Cardboard arcade leads to crowdsourced scholarship fund

Caine Monroy is an ambitious and creative 9-year-old who is quickly becoming an Internet superstar and, if Forbes’ prediction comes true, he’s also a future billionaire.
The young entrepreneur-in-the-making was attempting to build his own business — an arcade made from recycled cardboard boxes from his Dad’s store — but struggling to get customers. To help give Caine a biz dev boost, Nirvan Mullick staged a flashmob that resulted in the production of a short film called Caine’s Arcade, which in its first week online has already generated 2 million views on Vimeo and 1.4 million views on YouTube.
Caine’s Arcade is in his Dad’s shop, Smart Parts Auto, in East L.A., an area Nirvan explains gets little foot traffic. Lucky for Caine, Nirvan walked into the shop looking for parts for his ’96 Corolla and was immediately inspired by the young entrepreneur’s vision.

“Caine dreamed of the day he would have lots of customers visit his arcade, and he spent months preparing everything, perfecting the game design, making displays for the prizes, designing elaborate security systems, and hand labeling paper-lunch-gift-bags,” BoingBoing quoted Nirvan. He even has his own office and business cards.

When Caine asked Nirvan if he wanted to play with his arcade — for a fee of $1 for two turns, and $2 for a Fun Pass that would grant him 500 turns — Caine made $2 on the spot. Inspired, he came back later when Caine wasn’t there (the arcade is only open weekends) and asked his Dad, Greg, if he could make a short film. When Nirvan learned he had been Caine’s only customer, he was eager to help him generate more attention.

“We hatched a plan to invite everybody in LA to come play Caine’s arcade,” Nirvan explains in the short film. “The idea was to do a surprise flashmob at Caine’s Arcade on Sunday afternoon.”

So he made a Facebook event for October 2nd and posted it on Hidden LA, which has over 200,000 fans. Then NBC showed up and shortly after, it hit the front page of reddit. If you haven’t watched the video already, Caine’s reaction is worth seeing.

Now, in addition to a popular online video (which will premiere at DIY Days in October), Caine’s Scholarship Fund has already raised over $138,000 thanks to the generous donations of his online fans.

Have you seen any other inspiring innovations by kids under 15? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!