If you ask most entrepreneurs where they learned their most important lessons, few, if any, have taken place in a classroom. Successful students follow the rules; successful entrepreneurs create their own.
What, then, can we do to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs? How can we inspire the Oregon’s youth to start thinking outside the box? TiE Oregon, a chapter of the global nonprofit dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, might have an answer.
Alisha Menon, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, is helping to pilot a youth branch called TYE Oregon. Here, she tells us more:
What TYE Oregon is: A few years ago, TiE Boston founded TYE, a youth branch for high school students and each year, many TiE chapters are choosing to create a local TYE as well. TiE Oregon has decided to launch TYE Oregon this year. Its mission is to encourage and foster entrepreneurship in high school students and to grow the next generation of business leaders.
The hope is that TYE Oregon will encourage students to explore new opportunities and provide them with the skills and abilities to build a business. Some of these businesses may become the future of Oregon.
What students will learn through TYE Oregon that they can’t learn in school: TYEOregon is focused on giving students the opportunity to actually go out and use the concepts that they learnt in school and through this program in the real world. This experience will give students critical skills for business success (that can’t be taught in a classroom) through interactions with experienced entrepreneurs and fellow students.
TYE Oregon’s program consists of three phases. The first phase includes five 4-hour “boot-camps” that provide an introduction to entrepreneurship and the steps to turning an idea into a business using the Lean Launchpad framework.
The second phase is a full weekend startup camp of intense collaboration, innovation, and learning from inspiring entrepreneurs and experts in the fields of software, design, engineering, business development, sales, marketing, and fundraising. During this weekend, students will develop viable business ideas, form teams, and begin to build a company.
During the third phase, students will work with mentors to develop a business plan and begin working on building their business. This phase will culminate with a local business plan competition – the winner going on to participate in the TYE Global Business Plan Competition in June.
Why do you think entrepreneurship is important? Entrepreneurship offers individuals the opportunity to pursue their dreams and build something they see as exciting and worthwhile. All of us have a choice on how we choose to spend our time and it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. As a society, it is also important to recognize that small businesses are the engine of our economy. Start-ups are the fountain of jobs and have created over two-thirds of jobs in the U.S. over the past 15 years.
Do you hope to be an entrepreneur? Yes, at this point, I am still tossing around ideas and trying to decide what kind of company I will focus on. I am very interested in business leadership, which is how I got involved with TYE, as well as engineering and neuroscience. I also am involved in a lot of theater and the performing arts. Most of my ideas are based on these interests or combine one or more of them.