Investment guru Warren Buffett impressed by children's money-making ideas

Warren Buffett speaking at his Secret Millionaires Club 'Grow Your Own Business Challenge' in Omaha, Nebraska, US, on May 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Warren Buffett speaking at his Secret Millionaires Club 'Grow Your Own Business Challenge' in Omaha, Nebraska, US, on May 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Warren Buffett talking with sibling finalists 9-year-old Lilian (centre) and 12-year-old Simeon (right). -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Warren Buffett talking with sibling finalists 9-year-old Lilian (centre) and 12-year-old Simeon (right). -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Miroslav Bergen thought he would be"terrified" at meeting Warren Buffett, but he was wrong.

Miro, 14, was one of the winners of "Grow Your Own Business Challenge," a nationwide contest related to the animated "Secret Millionaires Club," which teaches children about finance and where Buffett voices his own character. "He's a nice, down-to-earth person," said Miro, who lives in Short Hills, New Jersey. "I entered this competition not really as an entrepreneur because I wasn't experienced in business. But I had an idea. Now business people are giving me advice."

The contest, in its fourth year, attracted entries from more than 4,000 boys and girls ages 7 to 14. The top entrants flew to Omaha, Nebraska to be judged and show Buffett their ideas. "You're looking at the future and it's a pretty good looking future," Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc and the world's third-richest person according to Forbes magazine, said in an interview.

Bergen won for "Beyond the Books," a website that lets people work together to create online courses and study guides, in a "Wikipedia of education." People would pay to advertise, or pay a monthly fee to have ads removed.

Bryn Hansen, 11, and Emily Harkins, 12, of Omaha, won the team contest for "Keep Track Sticky Back," sealable plastic pouches costing US$7.99 to US$66.99 that have sticky backs so they can be attached to nearly anything. "This competition has taught us a lot, not just business skills but also cost-evaluation, problem-solving skills, and business etiquette, and how to interact with other people," said Emily, who was on "cloud nine" after winning.

Winners each got US$5,000, and said they plan to invest it toward their businesses. Bryn and Emily may also seek a patent.

Buffett gave each finalist 10 Class B shares of Berkshire -if they vote to reelect him next year as chairman.

Many entries were pure online concepts. That is a change from when Buffett would buy Coca-Cola six-packs at his grandfather's grocery store for 25 cents, and then sell bottles for a nickel each.

"They've had the benefit of the Internet," Buffett said,"and that's reflective of the products they've come up with. They are leagues ahead of where I was at the same age."

Still, Buffett remains a role model.

"He has a ton of inspirational quotes to believe in yourself, to save money, and maybe someday grow up to be someone like him," Bryn said.