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16 December . 2021

Meet Sweetwater’s 10-year-old entrepreneur and his friends

At the age of 10, Sweetwater resident Ethan Kuhr (center) is already on his way to becoming another one of Austin’s successful entrepreneurs. His company, Neighborhood Squirrel, has found a promising niche – picking up pet waste in the backyards of his fellow Sweetwater neighbors.

Neighborhood Squirrel has about 24 customers in Sweetwater, which Ethan services together with neighbors Cason Wilkinson (right) and Everett Worley (left). These good friends are all in the fifth grade together at Lake Travis ISD’s Rough Hollow Elementary.

Ethan was inspired to start Neighborhood Squirrel so he could use his own money to purchase V-Bucks, a currency used in the popular Fortnite video game.

He has strong entrepreneurial role models in both of his parents. Dad Mark is co-founder of Synack, an online cyber security company. Mom Laura operates Nuthouse Bakery, a custom cookie company.

For his own first business, Ethan didn’t have to reach too far for an idea, as he is already in charge of cleaning up the backyard after the family’s black Lab, Goose.

As for the name, squirrels are one of the Kuhr family’s favorite animals, and in fact they lovingly refer to their home as “the nuthouse.” The name choice was strategic too – generic enough to allow Ethan and his associates to expand into dog walking, dog sitting and other related services as they get a little older.

Neighborhood Squirrel started last fall with just a few clients and has grown rapidly throughout Sweetwater, where customers return home to find a service card to let them know their yard has been freshly scooped.  

Ethan is happy but hardly surprised at his venture’s success. “A lot of people don’t want to scoop their own poop,” he says. “In my family, I’m the one in charge of scooping, so this idea came naturally.”

Laura helps out some with billing, scheduling and payroll, but otherwise Neighborhood Squirrel is all the work of Ethan and his associates. Both of Ethan’s parents have enjoyed watching the benefits of his entrepreneurship.

“He’s learning the value of a dollar at a young age, and he’s also started to save and invest, with the help of his dad,” Laura says.

The Kuhr family moved to Sweetwater from California in 2019, in part to be closer to Mark’s parents in San Antonio, and also because Synack has a second headquarters in Austin.

As they looked for a home, they were impressed by the number of families with young children at Sweetwater. The Kuhrs have four kids themselves, ranging in age from 4 to 10 years old.

For now, Ethan, Cason and Everett limit the number of customers they service to about three or four each day, so they can still have plenty of time to maintain their straight A grades and enjoy sports like flag football and soccer, along with video games.

At this time, they do have openings for a few more clients, and they’re also looking for a few more associates. If you’re interested, visit them on Facebook or email them at theneighborhoodsquirrel@gmail.com.

Read more resident stories from Sweetwater.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Worley Photography, aka Everett’s mom.

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