Derry teen's Small Business Fest growingBy RYAN LESSARD
Union Leader Correspondent
June 17. 2018 9:35PM
DERRY — Jack Potvin is already a veteran at organizing conventions and starting small business ventures. And he just graduated high school last Monday.
The 18-year-old Pinkerton grad is organizing the second annual Greater New Hampshire Small Business Fest, a showcase of more than 30 small businesses, which will take place June 23, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., in the bingo hall off the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry.
Potvin, a lifelong Derry resident, said his mother has her own public relations business and his father is a pharmaceutical consultant.
“So, I definitely got the business gene,” Potvin said.
The first Small Business Fest was held in September at the same location with about 20 businesses. Each business pays a $65 fee to have a table at the event.
Members of the community can come for free this year and expect to find giveaways, raffle prizes and food, with small Tapas-style meals starting at $4.
The proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Boys and Girls Club, which he’s been connected to since middle school.
Potvin played on the Boys and Girls Club basketball team and attended its summer camp between sixth and eighth grade. Potvin said the experience helped him grow as a person and develop into a decent basketball player. (He was a Pinkerton varsity captain.)
The idea to host a Small Business Fest began with attending local chamber of commerce events to see if his “young perspective” could help businesses compete in the digital age.
Potvin said he discovered a lot of small businesses needed help with social media, and he would do consulting work for them.
However, they also needed a way to network with other businesses, grow their visibility and get connected to the local community, he said.
More than anything, he said he hopes members of the community will come to the event and find a plumber or a summer camp or even a friend from the local businesses in attendance.
Potvin’s entrepreneurial spirit can be traced back to when he was a precocious 7-year-old, selling snacks and drinks with his then 5-year-old brother, Jeff, off his family’s boat to others on Big Island Pond, where his family lives.
After that, he did odd jobs including landscaping and shoveling, which developed to such a scale that he was employing other kids in his age group to do some of those jobs.
Later, as a sixth-grader, he began to buy and sell high-end collectible sneakers at big conventions. Then, in 2015, he hosted his own footwear event called Jack’s Sneakerhead Heaven Convention. He hosted a second Sneakerhead Heaven event the following year as well, which was located at the Boys and Girls Club in Derry.
Arthur McLean, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry, said they’re happy to help Potvin with the Small Business Fest. He said Potvin has done a “heck of a job” getting businesses together for it.
“Jack is very rare,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of high school kids with the entrepreneurial spirit he has.”
He said he is also impressed by Potvin’s desire to help the community.
Potvin said one benefit of getting all these businesses together and getting to know the operators is that it is a way for him to get exposed to different industries. That way, he might figure out what sort of businesses or nonprofits he might want to pursue in the future.
He will attend the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire next semester. Potvin is already a member of the school’s Idea and Innovation Society.
He’s not sure what he wants to do after college yet, but he knows he wants to make as big of an impact as he can on the world.
One area Potvin is passionate about is making volunteering “a mainstream, everyday thing for high schoolers.”
“I think that would solve a ton of problems,” he said.
Ultimately, he hopes the Small Business Fest will grow to include every business statewide. For now, he plans on continuing to organize the event during his summer breaks.
It will include businesses such as Herradura Mexican Restaurant, Slay Salon, Amoskeag Chiropractic, Mr. Fix-It, Comfort Kitchens of New Hampshire, East Derry Collision and many more.