11-year-old from Wilton helps out financial startup in Westport

Photo of J.D. Freda

WILTON — Rebuilding computers, marketing for a financial startup, learning to code — there isn’t much that 11-year-old Owen Lentner hasn’t already done.

The Wilton wunderkind has been eager to learn for as long as his parents Sean and Katherine Lentner can remember. Beyond that, the young man also has a savvy business acumen.

A few years ago, Katherine Lentner noticed Owen had left their home even earlier than her and her husband. He had already walked down to his parents’ joint office in the heart of Wilton Center. As his parents drew closer, they heard blaring music. It was Owen, who had opened the windows of the office, brought his own audio equipment from home, and had started playing music for all passersby.

“I’m thinking there is a concert at 7 a.m. in Wilton. I quickly realized it’s our son who has figured out how to project speakers outside of our office,” Katherine Lentner said. “He’s essentially DJ’ing and also having people pay him as he is playing music for them when they walk by.”

She joked that her husband and son are “self-proclaimed idea men.”

Owen’s father, Sean, is an entrepenuer and founder of Lentner Technology. Owen credits his father for sparking early interests, specifically in technology, and really getting him started in his learning process.

He calls his father a “role model” and someone that “showed me things that I could not have learned on my own.”

But Owen said that perhaps the most important driver for him in his quest for knowledge isn’t personal gain — it’s to teach others. Owen credits his father for not just teaching him how to learn, but “teaching me how to teach.”

“You have to grow knowledge to be able to teach knowledge,” Owen said while sitting with his mother. “I think that teaching to people is a great way to start growing knowledge socially, but also to get knowledge from these people. And to deliver, you need to have the knowledge to give it.”

And Owen hasn’t been stingy when it comes to sharing what he knows.

“Owen has the ability to adapt to different environments,” Katherine Lentner said. “I think that the senior citizens he taught last summer at the Wilton Commons all considered Owen their friend and have certainly invited him back multiple times.”

Over the summer of 2021, Owen spent time walking Wilton seniors through the simple ins and outs of tech use. While Owen remained steadfast to share his growing wealth of knowledge with the community, others began to take notice.

Enter Wilder Rumpf and Adam Pulcyn, co-founders of FinTron, a financial startup in Westport. The two Sacred Heart University graduates met with Katherine Lentner, who told them about her son’s desire to learn and his early successes. Since the fall, Owen has been learning hands-on as a volunteer at the FinTron office every Friday.

“Initially, he was making TikTok content with us, actually creating videos for our product,” Rumpf said.

Soon, Owen started learning programming under the tutelage of FinTron’s senior developer, as well as learning the basics of the company’s financial literacy program.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Owen said. “We started to make videos, and then I started coding more and I started to get into the groove.”

Rumpf said he and Pulcyn soon noticed how literate and effective Owen was as a presenter. “So, to prove a point, we thought ‘hey, let’s have Owen running the ambassador program and show that anybody can learn financial literacy through the FinTron platform,’” Rumpf said.

Owen has since taught 180 students in six classes with themes of “diversification, compound interest and general stock market material,” Pulcyn said. He has also learned the FinTronU program that serves as a teaching tool, employing a simulated trading game where students are given $100,000 in fake cash to buy and sell stocks and ETFs. Whoever makes the most profit on their investments in the challenge wins a real cash prize of $1,000. FinTron puts on one of these programs and awards the grand prize roughly four times a year.

On April 28, Owen will act as the host and emcee for FinTron’s latest program which is set to take place at Sacred Heart University and will feature students from numerous nearby high schools competing for $5,000 in cash prizes.

Both co-founders sang his praises. Pulcyn lauded Owen’s insightfulness while Rumpf joked that Owen may end up hiring him one day.

“The main thing I would like to take away from the experience is the education I can give to other students in the future and help other students thrive like I once did,” Owen said.

The multitalented and innately curious Wilton pre-teen also hasn’t thought much about how his focus and how he chooses to spend his time differs from his classmates. He said he doesn’t often realize that his peers were not choosing to focus on the same things he has. But that is more than fine to Owen, as he has no problem being the bridge to teaching them anything he has already learned.

“He really does enjoy teaching,” Katherine Lentner said. “He wants to recreate those types of environments for other students.”