The GVSU Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TESA) is a week-long summer program for high school students that focuses on cultivating interest in entrepreneurship and provides students with the knowledge and tools for starting their own businesses. TESA is an exceptional opportunity for high school students to interact and learn on a college campus. During the five day program, students work with college faculty and current GVSU students to solve a real-world problems through entrepreneurship. The program provides students with fundamental business concepts and essential entrepreneurship skills through hands-on, creative workshops. On the last day, the teams present a five-minute business idea pitch to a panel of judges from the local community for cash prizes.
The 2016 TESA program saw 36 students from 23 different high schools across the state of Michigan. Sponsors included Amway, KENT ISD, Ernst &Young, Spectrum Health Innovation, Start Garden, the Seidman College of Business, and the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Together they provided cash and prizes for the student entrepreneurs that totaled over $5,000. Each year, TESA features a theme for the students to focus their ideas toward. This year’s theme was healthcare. To assist students in understanding the challenges associated with healthcare, we kicked off the week with an intensive poverty simulation conducted by Access West Michigan. The hour and half long exercise grouped students into fictitious families experiencing poverty and challenged them to meet their basic needs within a certain time frame. We followed this exercise with a trip to Spectrum Health Innovations to listen to a dynamic panel of health care professionals as they discussed issues rampant in the current system. Later in the week, Kangaroo Kitchen hosted a healthy cooking workshop, Fulton Street Farmers Market gave a presentation on the value of local food markets, Start Garden introduced the students to what an entrepreneurial ecosystem looks like, and the David D. Hunting YMCA hosted us for rock climbing, volleyball, hula hooping, and basketball. Students were also given the opportunity to work with improvisation expert Amy Gascon from Dog Story Theater to improve their stage presence and team building skills. Throughout the week students were under the instruction of Peg Shoenborn and Dr. Tim Syfert. Shoenborn and Dr. Syfert guided them through ideation, prototyping, planning and market research, and management and operations.
At the end of the week, the student teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges made up of Tina Bain, Director of Global Special Events at Amway; Alaina Clarke, Conference Program Manager at Society of North American Goldsmiths; Michael Czechowskyj, Clinical Innovations Specialist at Spectrum Health; Paul Moore, Chief Marketing Officer at Start Garden; and Kevin Schnell, Executive Director at Ernst and Young. Ravel Bowman, George Ebeling, Abigail Johandes, Alicia Mendez and Jennifer Puente took home first prize and $2,500 for Time to Get Fresh, a business that would utilize the school bus system to provide children qualifying for free or reduced lunch with fresh produce and recipes. Sofia Alfaro, Genevieve Doyle, Benjamin Janes, Miranda Pablo and Jaspreet Singh were awarded second place and $1,500 for Crane Care, a business that would equip elementary schools with health care clinics. Nicholas Baran, Michaela Gheorghiu, Joey Paliwoda, Alex Plouff and Allison Smart received third place and $1,000 for A New Page, a company that would utilize medical social work students to address mental health care in prisons.
2016 Students’ Testimonials:
“I was wavering with what to do after high school, but I really think I may have found my path.”
“I had a great experience at TESA. I look forward to what this camp has given me to use in the real world.”
“This camp is my favorite camp of the summer. I did it last year and decided to come back because I learned so much. I would like to thank the whole TESA staff for making this camp 10 times better than it already was. The experiences and lessons I’ve learned I will keep forever. I can’t wait until next year.”
For ten years the Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TESA) has given high school students the tools and knowledge to start their own business through a week long crash course in entrepreneurship. During the five-day program, students work with college faculty and current GVSU students to solve a real-world problem through entrepreneurship. The program provides students with fundamental business concepts and essential entrepreneurship skills through hands-on, creative workshops. On the last day, the teams present their five-minute business idea pitch to a panel of judges from the local community for cash prizes. During the first week of August, GVSU expanded the impact of TESA by taking the program to Detroit for the first time. TESA Detroit was made possible through sponsorship from The Skillman Foundation, Beaumont, Ernst & Young, 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Inc., and the Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office.
31 high school students from 10 different Detroit area schools authorized by GVSU’s Charter Schools Office participated in TESA. Students were divided into seven teams and worked towards developing a business solution for issues that plague our healthcare system. We kicked the week off with a field trip to Beaumont Health System, where the students had the opportunity to listen to a diverse panel of healthcare experts. The panel was followed by a tour of the Beaumont Royal Oak campus and a patient simulation workshop. An intensive poverty simulation conducted by Access West Michigan, which introduced the students to the limitations many Americans face in accessing health care, followed the trip to Beaumont. Later in the week, students toured Eastern Market and took part in a scavenger hunt in downtown Detroit with the Detroit Experience Factory.
Guest speakers throughout the week include William K. Middlebrooks from 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, James Chapman of Rock Ventures, and Michael L. Dixon of Beaumont Hospital. Students spent the week under the instruction of Peg Shoenborn and Dr. Tim Syfert. Shoenborn and Dr. Syfert guided them through ideation, prototyping, planning and market research, and management and operations. Students were also given the opportunity to work with improvisation expert Amy Gascon from Dog Story Theater to improve their stage presence and team building skills.
At the end of the week, the student teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges composed of Jeanette A. Bowles from Ernst & Young, Michael L. Dixon of Beaumont Hospital, Mary Kramer of Crain’s Detroit Business, Aaron B. Lewis of Keller Williams, William E. Luse of 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Andrea L. Wallace of DTE Energy and Timothy H. Wood, Ph.D, of the GVSU Charter Schools Office. Imani Ahmad (Canton Preparatory High School), Camille Brown (Taylor Preparatory High School), Anthony Vickers (Taylor Prep) and Brenda Waites (Taylor Prep) took home first place and $2500 for Healthy Streets, their business that promotes healthy lifestyles by providing low-income communities with fresh produce and dietary education. Raphael Clements (Taylor Prep), Chloe Davis (Henry Ford Academy), Janhvi Vyas (Taylor Prep), Bernard Muhammad (Michigan Virtual Charter School) and Marcus Woodford (University Preparatory Math and Science Academy) were awarded second place and $1500 for Uber Med Red Care Services, which provides transport to and from doctor appointments for homebound families. Third place and $1,000 was awarded to Madison Foster, Nisha Krishnan, James Pope and Terrell White for Medic-Go, a diagnostic medical kiosk system aimed at reducing unnecessary emergency room traffic.
The TESA staff chose to recognize Justin Wilton (Michigan Math and Science Academy) with Most Valuable Entrepreneur of the Week Award for his exemplary attitude, curiosity and curtsey throughout the week. Runner up was Nisha Krishnan (Grand Blanc High School) for her consistent demonstration of patience and teamwork.