When he’s not running cross country and participating in ASB, you might catch sophomore Alex Siesel wearing a shirt with a baby panda on it and the company name “Bandalou Baby” written on the back. Alex’s devotion to the company, which he helped create with his mom, is fueled by his passion for applying STEM and problem solving to the real world.
“I helped with the creation of Bandalou Baby and the concept,” Alex said. “It’s not, like, Euler’s Theorem or anything. It’s just creating equations that model what we plan will happen.”
When Alex’s mom Lucia Siesel asked him for advice for an idea for a potential start up company, he helped her develop “Bandalou Baby,” a website and retail store that specifically works with selling baby products. The store aims to connect and band together parents who want similar products so they can get discounts on certain items. His mom highly values her son’s contributions to the start up.
“Alex [has] touched nearly every aspect of the company, from processing and placing orders, to filing sales tax, financial modeling, logistics with FedEx, merchandising, bringing up and opening the store, picking the store location, customer deliveries, etc.,” Lucia Siesel wrote in an email interview. “He worked closely with our engineers and helped develop our financial models with our CFO and Advisor. He also wrote the algorithms for the engine that calculates the amount of discounts based on 10 factors, including the size of the group, brand, price, shipping zip, etc. He worked late into the evenings after school and nearly every weekend.”
When it launched, Alex was assigned the role of checking over the finances as the Director of Operations. This job entails a list of responsibilities: creating equations, setting up spreadsheets, calculating net products, figuring out shipping ranges or costs and other types of financial work. While he usually works from his computer, occasionally he’ll go to the actual store in Palo Alto.
“If something looks wrong with our taxes or our sales tax, I’ll just look over the equations and make sure everything is correct,” Alex said. “Sometimes I’ll have to create those sheets to send to manufacturers. Sometimes I’ll go to the actual retail store and work there, check in products [and] make sure that everything is setup properly.”
This job, Alex said, has helped him become more confident. He has learned skills in retail, economics and making spreadsheets. Working with the company has also taught him how to manage his time efficiently. Alex values the fact that his parents have put so much trust in him with this important job.
“I’ll get emails [from my mom] and it’ll [say] ‘Hey Alex can you check this equation before I send it out?’ or ‘Hey can you help me come up with this equation so I can send it to this retail?’” Alex said. “Or [even] just ‘Hey we got a ton of orders, this product been really popular in the store, make sure we have enough stock.’”
Alex hopes his experiences with the company will help him achieve larger, long-term goals.
“[My goal] is to become a doctor, particularly a surgeon,” Alex said. “I think I would be a really good doctor because I feel like I can connect with people. It makes me feel good when I am able to help people, and I think being a doctor is one of the best ways you can help people because you comfort them, you make them feel better, you get to use your knowledge so you stay intellectually active, but you also retain that personable aspect.”
Alex’s mom is also proud of what he has done to help her for the company, and cites his resiliency and knack for problem solving for his success.
“I’m most proud of his resilience and ability to be resourceful,” Lucia Siesel said. “Things haven’t always come easy to Alex, and he’s had his fair share of challenges and disappointments, but he’s learned to take things in stride, to self-advocate and most importantly, to learn how to bounce back when things don’t always go as planned. If there’s a way, Alex is determined to find it, and he does it with kindness… He’s learned some of his resourcefulness from working on Bandalou. Start-ups are inherently difficult and you have to learn to be scrappy every day, all day.”
Working on finances for a company is something that most high schoolers probably wouldn’t imagine themselves doing until much later in life, but Alex gets a thrill out of it unlike anything else.
“I don’t view it as work, I view it as fun.” Alex said. “It’s like a puzzle. You have a problem you have to solve, [and to do it], you have to go through steps, you have to brainstorm, talk about it, [and] when you finally come to a solution, it’s like knowing your work has a purpose.”