In addition, a recent NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation survey found that 90 percent of teachers and guidance counselors said their students were interested in becoming entrepreneurs, but 75 percent of the students didn’t know where to start.
Margaret Marie Butler, director of Syracuse University’s Student Entrepreneurial Experience (SEE) and a college dropout and former business owner, helped launch the program this year knowing kids who were unlikely to advance to college needed help.
“They have great ideas but don’t have an outlet for them — that there are people out there who can help them,” she said.
Twenty teens, including three who had already started a business before participating, just completed SEE’s inaugural week-long program. Affiliated with the university’s South Side Innovation Center, the program accommodates high school and college students and is modeled on an adult program that started seven years ago.
At SEE, the students meet with successful entrepreneurs — a fairly common component; in this case, the group included the foundersofBrand Yourself, a free, online reputation service.
Though these programs vary widely in focus, format, duration, student base and cost, many of them, like Vail’s and Moses’ a century ago, are founded, run and even supported by entrepreneurs.
Some are famous, others are not.
Peter Thiel, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of PayPal, is now in the third year of his foundation’s fellowships, which award $100,000 to 20 young entrepreneurs, who are willing to skip college for two years and focus on their work.
Philadelphia-based Startup Corpsis also in its third year.
Co-founded by local entrepreneurs Rich Sedmak and Christian Kunkel, the organization received early support from Walter Buckley, founder and CEO of the Internet Capital Group, which is based in a Philadelphia suburb. Some 200 area entrepreneurs serve as mentors.
Ninety-two students from six schools participated in the in-school program this pastyear, which provides the nuts and bolts of starting your own businesses. The program will add an after-school component to serve more students, the majority of whom are low-income, inner city.
“The goal is to develop an entrepreneurial mindset," says Sedmak, who founded his first company — a consumer electronic s liquidation business — when he was 15 and eventually dropped out of college to start another firm. “Startup Corps, like Peter Thiel, believes that there's a huge societal opportunity cost in letting entrepreneurial minds slip through the cracks,” Sedmak said. “Both the university system, and even more, so the k-12 education system, are anti-entrepreneurial. Our kids hate school. “
Startup Corps accommodates for-profit enterprises, as well as not-for-profit ones, which in some cases, mix commerce with a cause.
Sedmak, for example, readily cites the success of two 16-year-old, hip-hop music fans who started a music label that promotes peace and nonviolence within the genre, recruiting local stars.