We immerse teens in local business communities to expose them to the many career opportunities they can pursue. Additionally, we teach entrepreneurial thinking to help our rising generation have a growth mindset.
Startup High summer sessions run 4 days and are usually located in a chamber of commerce or co-working space. During the experience teens engage entrepreneurs, develop a pitch, launch a service business, learn rejection therapy, and perform service in the community.
We measure success based on young people increasing their social capital (see research), entrepreneurial hustle, and confidence to create economic opportunities for themselves.
"It's not about money or connections. It's the willingness to outwork and outlearn when it comes to your business."
FROM THE FOUNDER
Logo from first program in 2012
I've seen the power of connecting teens and entrepreneurs. Even if young people never start their own business, developing an entrepreneurial mindset will help them in any career they chose.
In 2012, I personally led the first Startup High programs out of Bull City Forward Co-working in Durham, North Carolina. Since then, programs have been organized in several other cities around North Carolina and Virginia. I'm excited to work with educators and business leaders across the country to bridge the skills gaps. Today, more than ever, students need to get out of the building.
What happens at Startup High?
Rejection Therapy - No one enjoys rejection, but it will happen. Students will experience the sting of rejection and learn to recover.
Community Service - Think beautifying a park or working on a city farm.
Engaging Entrepreneurs - Every day students will ask questions of someone who is on a startup journey.
Confidence to Launch - All students will leave with the confidence that they can launch something now. It will likely be a service business like hair braiding, shoe cleaning, landscaping, or car detailing.
Coffee Chats - Each student will interview one one one with each of their classmates in a coffee style chat. Isn't most business done at the coffee shop?
Company Visits - Likely most students have driven by buildings in their area with no knowledge of what is happening inside. They will find out during Startup High.
"Startup High transformed my son from a kid who was content staying in his room playing video games into a kid who got excited about the impact he could make in the world"
While it's possible to succeed in your career based on knowledge alone, we all realize that "who you know" is critical. Traditional educational systems mainly rely on the transmission of knowledge and struggle to systematically increase a student's professional network. Startup High is focused on helping young people build their professional network early in their career.
Dr. Ted Zoller, Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has researched and concluded that an economy is only as strong as the connections between entrepreneurs, investors, and service professionals. In our experience, the same is true of teens. If they connect with professionals early, their economic opportunities increase.
For example, Robin McKinnie from Winston Salem, NC attended Startup High in 2013 (see picture above). Four years later, he was hired as a Data Analyst at Apple (see picture to the left). Was Startup High soley responsible for his career trajectory? No. But it definitely gave him a greater perspective of what's possible.