Homegrown Business: Teach Kids the Value of a Dollar with Explorer Hop

Learning the value of your money is a vital to living in Toronto in this day and age. For this weeks Homegrown Business, we spoke to the founder of Explorer Hop, Hasina Lookman, who is making sure the next generation has the tools they need to succeed in our economy! Keep reading to learn more!

CEO of Explorer Hop, Hasina Lookman
CEO of Explorer Hop, Hasina Lookman

What is your business called and what does it do?

Explorer Hop is a ground-breaking, top-rated financial education camp and after-school program for children that targets kids well before they reach their teens, empowering them with real-life money lessons and the fundamentals of investing. Explorer Hop’s Camp Millionaire and Young Entrepreneurs programs have been voted Top 6 Educational Camps in the GTA, Top Camp in the GTA, Top STEM Camp in the GTA, and Top Sustainable Entrepreneurship Camp, and have been roundly lauded by the BBC. As founder and CEO, I teach kids as young as 6 years old the value of a buck – a first. “I believe that trying to teach pre-teens, teens and young adults about money management and investment, while still important, is often too late. Canadian parents aren’t having the “money convo” early enough, household debt is at an all-time high, and mom and dad need help.”

What made you want to do this work?

Throughout my career, I mentored many motivated young people entering the workforce looking to make an impact on the world. Time and again, I witnessed the education systems failing to teach them important life skills — many unprepared for managing their finances in real life. I wanted to help these young people achieve their full potential by offering my decades’ worth of knowledge and experience. That’s when my then-10-year-old daughter gave her the idea for Explorer Hop.

What problem does this solve?

Explorer Hop aims to encourage money smarts in kids from an early age. While we are all focused on physical and mental well-being, we also need financial well-being for a happy life. It completes the basic tenets of a happy life. This is what we teach kids at a level that they can understand and relate to. Most parents talk about how kids have everything and “don’t understand the value of things”. We take this head on by coaching kids to transform their ideas into businesses by getting their hands dirty. This life-changing experience helps them understand the value of a buck and appreciate it in life. It also helps them understand and empathize with the money challenges their parents face.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Kids as young as 6-17 years old and women.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

At Explorer Hop, we coach kids on various subjects covered under S.T.E.A.M. As a mom, my aim is to provide convenience and flexibility for parents looking for programs focused on life skills. We offer these programs as summer camps, after-school programs and PA day camps. We also provide bursaries for deserving children.

Where in Toronto can we find your profession?

556 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Toronto

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

We have a wide range of camps and after-school programs around us. This makes it a tough decision for a parent to pick a particular program. Explorer Hop ensures that it covers a wide variety of S.T.E.A.M. and STEM programs and is known as the top-rated educational camp in the GTA for Camp Millionaire and Young Entrepreneurs.

During program creation, our programs go through three filters:
1. Core competency: How much of the core subject is the program covering?
2. Cohort competency: Are we able to make it “relatable and fun” for the age-group attending this program?
3. Delivery competency: How will we teach this program? Who will teach this program?

This 3-step process ensures that our programs are designed to deliver critical subjects in a fun way.

Our last step is to check if it passes the “individual learn by doing” test. The idea is to create individual responsibility, but to work in teams. The Young Entrepreneurs Camp ensures every participant has a responsibility in the team. They motivate each other and decide as a team on individual work allocation, as well. Explorer Hop programs move the needle on not just team accomplishments, but individual accomplishments, too. We also request a detailed “after-program feedback” that covers all the tenets of a great program.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part about my work is creating kids’ programs. As a financial literacy expert and as a mom, I have two hats that I use interchangeably to transform my knowledge into easy bite-sized program modules for kids. As a mom, I understand what gets kids excited and I am able to design the programs into relatable examples/activities. Gamifying these critical subjects is a great way to drive effectiveness.

My work starts after-school hours and weekends. This means busy weekends and busy evenings. Sometimes I am running pillar to post to keep up with my mom duties and chasing my mission in life!

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

Being a role model is tough. Sometimes I like to splurge on a few little things that wouldn’t pass the “value test” and that’s when the jokes on me. LOL

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?

Clearbanc is doing a great job as a start-up. Michele Romanow’s mission on easy funding options for start-ups with full transparency is a brilliant idea. I also find it inspiring to see the focus and support for women entrepreneurs.