High school students created and ran their own businesses after a week of entrepreneurial education at UD's EntrePrep Summer Institute.

Tomorrow's entrepreneurs

UD's EntrePrep Summer Institute provides hands-on instruction in business skills

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8:34 a.m., Aug. 14, 2014--Teams of Delaware high school students created and ran their own “business-for-a-day” on Main Street earlier this month as part of the EntrePrep Summer Institute at the University of Delaware.

As part of the EntrePrep program, run by the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, students spent six days residing on campus and receiving over 30 hours of classroom instruction on business, economics and personal finance. 

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At the end of the week, the students put their new lessons into action, opening and operating their own businesses on Main Street.

“Who knew they would be so excited?” said Carrie McIndoe, who led and taught the students throughout the week. “They were excited about innovation, about staying up late and learning in the wee hours of the night.”

McIndoe worked with Jim O’Neill, UD professor of economics and founder of the CEEE, to bring EntrePrep to UD.

“In 144 hours they’re completely changed students,” said McIndoe. “How amazing.” 

Students working with EntrePrep used the many resources available at UD to explore their various passions and dreams through business projects.

Redesigning the UD lanyard

Cassidy Hanifee, Michael Metcalf, Corey Mitchell and Rachel Tallant of Delcastle High School discovered an opportunity to create a new business when Mitchell’s lanyard broke on the first day of EntrePrep’s weeklong program.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘What could I do to make this better?’” said Mitchell. “I know I wasn’t the only one who’s had this problem.” 

Mitchell researched with his teammates and found paracord, which is durable and water-resistant. Tallant created a strong and sturdy intertwined braid design.

The team created 50 of these lanyards in under 24 hours before going live with their business on Main Street. They sold the lanyards (along with matching bracelets) in a variety of colors and patterns, with a customized tag sporting the name of their new business, Innovation Creation.

The Innovation Creation team is very interested in expanding their ideas further. Hanifee and Tallant even met with UD engineers to discuss the design of their products in the future.

During their week at EntrePrep, the team said that they learned financial lessons that they used to calculate important variables like pricing in order to turn a profit.

“The basic idea is to turn a dream into a reality,” said Metcalf. “But the design itself is what makes it innovative and special.”

Sweet business plans

Other teams of students in the EntrePrep program decided to test their culinary skills in creating confectionary businesses. 

Diadem Abayode, Ahdel Candelaria, Shayla Hayes and Zuwena Moore of Delcastle formed a food company as their business-for-a-day that keeps health in mind.

“SHADZ is an alternative dessert company exploring new innovations in snacks that taste good and offer health benefits,” said Abayode. 

The team conducted serious research, trying health foods like rice candy, tofu and wheatgrass at local stores. During this time they discovered that protein was a growing trend in food marketing.

When their idea to create a protein lollipop proved too difficult to execute in the short time frame, the team regrouped, showing resilience and forming a new idea.

“Our new product was Rice Krispies treats,” said Moore. Keeping their first idea in mind, the team included nuts on some of the Rice Krispies to incorporate protein into the snack. 

Isiah Flagg and Jai-Nova Maple of Glasgow High School and Greg Williams of St. Elizabeth High School also joined together to create Brownie Madness.

“Nobody would expect us to make brownies,” said Williams, who credited Maple with the original idea. Flagg, who likes cooking, helped to design the recipes.

The team made 72 brownies in four flavors – fudge, Snickers, Hershey’s and M&M’s, which sold out first.

Aside from learning about practical subjects like executive summaries and business plans, the team also developed their skills for strategizing and thinking on their feet.

“We learned that you have to have a passion for what you’re doing,” said Maple. He added that, “It’s better to have an A team and a B idea than a B team and an A idea.” 

Future entertainers and networkers

Gabriel Leon-Gonzalez, Jocelin Montes and Nancy Santillan from Delcastle have been working together in their school’s digital media shop for over a year. They decided to use their skills in this field to create their own videography company.

“We figured we have a talent and we have a camera,” said Santillan. “We should take advantage of that. So that’s why we came up with this idea.”

They created a company, dubbed Cinemaniacs, and were tasked with chronicling the weeklong program on video. 

“Miss Carrie is like our very first customer,” said Montes. “She hired us to film the experiences and journeys of other participants.”

The group said that they feel their overall presentation skills have improved from their time at EntrePrep, as well as their confidence about factors like body language. 

“Miss Carrie told us, ‘If you enjoy doing what you’re doing, use your resources and create something out of it, and so we did,” said Montes. She later added, “This whole week has been amazing and so much fun.”

The Cinemaniacs’ fellow students Keygan Gilmore, Gabriel Gonzalez and Naiyla Richardson of Delcastle and Diondre Hamm of Christiana High School also decided to create an entertainment company, Razor Hawk. The team planned to put on a concert at the end of the business day.

“We thought, ‘This is going to be the easiest thing in the history of easy,’” said Richardson. “We were insanely wrong.” 

Despite the difficulties of logistics and planning a concert, the group learned important financial lessons and life skills. 

“You never realize the importance of sleep until you’ve been in college,” added Richardson of her time in the residence halls. She also used her resources at EntrePrep to arrange a day of shadowing at campus station WVUD-FM due to a personal passion for music and radio. 

“Everybody has a story and I love listening to them,” said Richardson. “I love that feeling of being able to create a connection with someone. So I thought why not go to a radio station?”

Her fellow student Judith Lynch of Padua Academy participated in serious networking, as well. Lynch, who is interested in business management, arranged an interview with the president of an integrated marketing agency. 

Hamm, who worked with Richardson to promote Razor Hawk, also networked throughout the week after having an idea for his own company, Viper Sports Management. 

“I play four sports for my high school,” said Hamm, who is captain of the varsity football, wrestling and indoor/outdoor track teams. “So they helped me find something that I know that I’m good at.” 

Hamm connected with O’Neill as well as Matthew Robinson, professor of sport management at UD, to learn more about this career path. He was also able to arrange a meeting with the president of the Delaware 87ers professional basketball team in the near future.

“EntrePrep Summer Institute ignited my passion to start my own sports management company,” said Hamm, who also said that he developed better time-management skills at EntrePrep. 

“I think this is a wonderful program, and it gives the children an opportunity to express themselves,” said Elizabeth Scott, Hamm’s aunt and guardian. “We never had anything like that in my day. I thank the program for giving us the opportunity to experience this with the kids.”

Article by Sunny Rosen

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