Young local business owner Caine Monroy shares story with Marshall class

With these words, professor David Belasco of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies introduced Caine Monroy, the youngest speaker the center has ever hosted for his Wednesday night class, Entrepreneurial Mindset: Taking the Leap.

Nine-year-old Monroy stars in a video by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick that features his homemade cardboard box arcade in the auto parts and salvage yard owned by his father, George, called Smart Parts on Mission Road in Los Angeles. The film went viral on April 9.

Caine Monroy, who started and manages his own arcade out of his father's auto shop, spoke to a business class Wednesday night. - Ani Kolangian | Daily Trojan

Belasco invited Monroy to speak about his starting the arcade.

“Caine is the embodiment of fun and perseverance. He didn’t do it to make money, he did it to have fun and give people an experience,” Belasco said. “If you give people a great experience, they will come.”

The roughly 10-minute film, which now has more than 7 million views online, outlines Monroy’s journey to success. He set up the cardboard arcade outside his father’s shop in June where he sat outside every day waiting for customers. Finally, in August, Mullick walked into the shop to get his car fixed and became Monroy’s first customer.

“Caine had spend the entire summer setting up this experience, and I was the guy who to got to experience Caine acting out everything he made,” Mullick said. “It brought me back to my childhood and inspired me to make this film.”

Mullick decided to plan a flash mob to bring customers to Monroy’s arcade. He made a Facebook event, and eventually, Monroy’s story appeared on the homepage of the content-sharing website Reddit. The success of the flash mob and Monroy’s business became the premise of his film.

Before posting the video online, Monroy’s family and Mullick set up a scholarship fund for Caine. The money raised will also go towards funding creativity and entrepreneurship for kids, Mullick said. The foundation has now raised almost $200,000, and the Goldhirsch Foundation has agreed to match the donations dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000.

“It was an insane, incredible, phenomenal response, and we were unprepared for it,” Mullick said.

Monroy said that his idea for the arcade came when his father was throwing away boxes at his business.

“I could make something out of them,” Monroy said. “I just cut them up.”

Monroy’s personal qualities have made him a successful entrepreneur with a bright future ahead because, “he likes to sell, he likes to satisfy customers, and he’s creative,” Mullick said.

Monroy’s father said he has learned about the power of the internet from the experience.

“I have like three friends on my Facebook. [Caine] has 107,000,” George Monroy said. “He’s making more money than I am.”

Monroy hopes to be “someone that invents games,” when he grows up, he said. Monroy’s drive to have fun is what has made his story so popular, Mullick said.

“That’s what’s exciting about Caine’s story,” he said. “It’s inviting everybody to play.”

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