At age eight or nine, Skratch co-founder Scott Bennett took one of his first risks. He ventured out to summer camp, leaving his Dallas home for the first time.
He didn’t last there long and ached for his home. Yet, a year later, he surprised everyone by going again. This time though, he chose a different camp – one that he would stick with for the next eight years and still pictures in a positive light.
“It’s been a big part of how I became independent and counted on myself more than I ever thought I could,” Scott said.
Skratch is a mobile app that connects ambitious teenagers with paying gigs in their hometown, including some Plano zip codes, and aims to teach them financial literacy, interpersonal skills and who they are outside of school. The magic in Skratch is its accessibility. Everyone has a mobile device, including many families with lower income, and that gives Skratch the potential to make a real social impact, Scott believes.
For teenagers, the gigs are a matter of stepping out of their comfort zone, having a supervisor who will hold them to a new standard and help them discover skills they may not have realized they had.
The goal of Skratch is the same one Scott aspires to as a father of two daughters – to raise independent and confident adults. Scott’s daughters are 13 and 16 years old, and they have gotten to see his business firsthand, with a behind-the-scenes view of the hard work it takes to get there.
“They see me going all in in something, and that to me is probably the most valuable lesson I’ve ever given them in terms of work,” Scott said.
He says he’s seen his message click with his older daughter, a junior in high school who is pursuing dance. She participated in competitions, but not to win. Her goal was to ultimately earn a spot on the drill team, and she has accomplished that, realizing on the way how much the journey impacted and inspired her.
Though Skratch came to life after a conversation between Scott and his partner, Ronen Akiva, who realized his son was about to enter college without ever having working, it was also a personal choice for Scott. Teenagers in the workforce had been declining, and so had opportunities for them; that concerned him as a parent himself.
At first, he approached the problem as a parent, wondering how many people around him shared the same problem. Once he knew that the market was big enough, he questioned why no one was spending time on it.
“I’m solving a problem for three people – somebody who needs the service of a teen, the teen who needs an opportunity to earn income through work, and the parent of that teen who is trying to teach financial literacy with income as the center of it,” Scott explained. He embraces his new, self-imposed role as the “head of the labor union for teens,” as he calls it.
Scott’s dream job as a kid was to become a sports agent, so he could be in the game without really being in the game, he admits, as someone who was never a natural-born athlete. Growing up in an entrepreneurial family with a grandfather who owned a handbag business and a dad who traveled as a salesman, Scott was instantly drawn to the path, to how it opened up more paths and allowed him to work with different people and build meaningful relationships.
He defined entrepreneurs as people who take on the challenge to solve problems with their business that haven’t been solved before, and he knew with conviction he wanted to be the kind of entrepreneur that surrounds his ideas with people who will give it the opportunity it deserves.
“As humans we put our own obstacles in the way. I’ve allowed myself to keep moving, when in the past obstacles have paralyzed me,” Scott said. Even if he doesn’t get the signs he’s hoping for, he keeps moving – focusing less on his need for affirmation and more on his ambition, accepting that nothing will go according to plan, and that’s okay.
That said, Scott and his partner do spend a lot of time watching for the point of failure, studying every transaction and how they can improve it. They focus on what occurs after the employer and the teenager cross paths and on what occurs when the teenager shows up for the job and gets a chance to succeed in the real world.
It all starts with a first impression, something that feels so small, yet can be so life-changing. On Jan. 20, Skratch hosted a free event at the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Texas at Dallas called “Empowering Tomorrow’s Professional Women.” Through four featured panelists, Scott hoped to start a conversation about the value of first impressions and building confidence and careers.
For him, it started with that one risk he took as a kid: summer camp. But for someone else, it can be something completely different. He revisits a blog post by Mark Suster that says every interaction and every opportunity is like a dot on a graph. Scott believes in the work he is doing, and he continues to plot on his graph toward success, inspiring others to do the same.
To learn more about Skratch, the job hunting app for teens, and to download the app, visit the website below.Skratch >