What is this generation coming to?

That answer for 33 high school teens from West Michigan was,

“Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy!”

For nine years running, the Seidman College of Business Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation has hosted a week-long camp featuring interactive lectures, team-building activities, hands-on research, field trips, networking with local entrepreneurs, and strategic planning. And there are rules that include punctual attendance, active participation, good teamwork, and even leaving workspaces in good and clean condition.

Thanks to the generous support from an Amway sponsorship, the stage was set for a defined, yet creative atmosphere where teams of four to five students from 16 different schools collaborated on an original business pitch from the idea stage to a developed concept. On the final day, each team presented its ideas to a panel of local business professionals for a chance to win cash prizes totaling $5,000! 

The assignment for each team was, “How to create a start-up company centered on the arts.” 

To jump start the effort, the campers visited the Grand Rapids Arts Museum for design thinking; they designed a mock-up of a shoe, and also visited the Geek Group Science lab. 

"The main goal is to introduce students to the concept of entrepreneurism and creative thinking," said Shorouq Almallah, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "By the end of the week, students develop a skillset and have the knowledge about how to become a problem-solver and be able to come up with their own ideas."

Faculty member Tim Syfert guided what turned out to be the winning team.  The orange team comprised of Ryan Miller, Corbin Ebeling, Malik Kelley, Xaryia Carson, Jennifer Thompson, and Teresa Paul wowed the judges with their “EYECanD” proposal to place a local artist’s work on the candy wrapper.  Purchasers could save and frame the art or contact the artist to purchase an original or print of the desired work.

Syfert shared, “Seeing that sparkle in their eyes, and hearing the spontaneous ‘I have a question, I have a question!!’ refrain is rewarding.  They evolve to a stage where they know their ideas could become a reality.” 

As universities evaluate their ability to attract and educate the next generation of thinkers and doers, it demands that they seek ways to capture the attention of younger persons.  Creating a laboratory of learning and exploration is one way to affect their thinking, engage their minds, and show them the potential they may not have discovered.

Faculty leaders observed that high school students have great ideas, but don’t believe that it’s something they can do. Further, exploring entrepreneurial ideas is not typically part of a high school curriculum.  It’s an adventure and distraction, but doesn’t necessarily stick.

When students begin college, they are working for a degree that should lead to a job, so the entrepreneurial attitude is manifested differently at that stage of life. 

“It just really opened my eyes and made my dream company a lot closer to not being a dream,” shared Alejend Bowman, after the week-long experience. 

For more information on registration for the Summer Camp of 2016 visit http://www.gvsu.edu/cei/previous-tesa-programs-188.htm

Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy

Presented by: Amway