The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Whole Latte Fun
Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Teaches Business Basics to High School Students
By Melanie Nicholas
High school students were brewing up something special this summer when they were asked to create mock coffee shops as part of a free enterprise contest during Entrepreneurship Boot Camp 2007. Entrepreneurship Boot Camp is an intensive, week-long study of free enterprise at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin and is hosted by the university’s Jan and Ted Roden Center for Entrepreneurship. Center Director and Entrepreneurship Chair Dr. Leslie Toombs said the camp stemmed from a brainstorming session on ways the center could meet its mission to grow economic development opportunities for West Texas.
“We want to promote entrepreneurship in this region, and high school students are a natural target,” Toombs explained. “We had 21 students who were very talented, resourceful, creative, and bright. This was an exciting project, and it will be wonderful to see what kind of future business leaders these students will turn into.”
Twenty-one students participated and lived in campus apartments during the camp. After dividing into teams, students spent two to three hours per day developing business ideas and performing simulation exercises. Jeanna Pool, owner of Denver-based marketing firm Catalyst Creative, led the teams through exercises that helped determine advertising focus, such as determining “ideal” customer profiles. Next, they worked on advertising strategies.
“The kids had a lot of energy and were very eager to learn how to make their logo and identity stand apart. It was really great to see them help each other with critiques and suggestions that would make their business model run better and more effectively,” Pool said after her workshop.
Students also participated in activities aimed at augmenting their skills in other critical enterprise areas. Several sessions focused on financial literacy, from working part-time to earn extra money to 401K savings and accounting methods.
“We also provided them with tips and worksheets on budgeting. As young entrepreneurs, it’s never too soon to learn how to make and save their money,” Toombs said.
Not all the sessions were strictly business — leadership training, goal setting, teambuilding, career choice, and ethics training were also part of the camp. Another was all about mixing fun and creativity, and a few other tasty bits, to make a new cereal.
“I got Corn Pops, Pop Rocks, Coca-Cola, Pixie Stix, and milk in my cereal,” 16-year-old Nathan Thomas said.
Jeff Stamp, Assistant Professor and Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of North Dakota, led the teams through creativity exercises that helped them identify business ideas and opportunities.
“I was really excited this opportunity worked out so well,” Toombs said. “It was high energy. It was challenging. But these were great kids with great ideas and we all decided we would do it again.”
All participants were awarded a $500 scholarship to attend UTPB after graduation. Two students and aspiring young entrepreneurs were also selected to receive $2,000 annual scholarships to UTPB. Toombs gave a special thank you to the UTPB Students in Free Enterprise who helped with several of the training sessions and assisted throughout the week.
Entrepreneurship Boot camp was made possible by The Pinkie Roden Chair for Entrepreneurship, which is invested in the Long Term Fund and had a market value of $977,084 as of August 31, 2007.
The purpose of The Jan and Ted Roden Center for Entrepreneurship is to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and initiative in the Permian Basin region. This will be accomplished through:
- Promoting self venturing as a viable career to anyone in the Permian Basin region including: students at all levels, business owners, and potential business owners;
- Participating in regional economic development activities;
- Development and delivery of entrepreneurship-focused academic programs;
- Development and delivery of certificate programs;
- Delivery of Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Series;
- Developing alliances with other regional entrepreneurial support organizations.