Jessica Seid, staff writer at CNNMoney.com brings an inspiring story of two high schoolers, Cody Chang and Jonathan Mohan, who visited their local YMCA for some free business classes – didn’t even know what an “entrepreneur” meant – got inspired, and started their own fruit smoothie business, Deloozie’s. Their business idea won them a high-wheeling mentor, national recognition, and $1,200 to start it up. Impressive! You can read the article below or link to the original here.
Think Chad Hurley, the 29 year-old founder of YouTube, is impressive? These kids prove it’s never too early to start thinking like an entrepreneur.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Cody Chang and Jonathan Mohan didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was when they signed up for a class on business and entrepreneurship at their local YMCA.
But the two high schoolers did know they were intrigued by the free classes offered by FutureWorks to ninth and tenth graders interested in starting a business.
Mohan, now a senior at The Summit School in Queens, N.Y. and Chang, a sophomore at Millennium High School in Manhattan paired up to start their own fruit smoothie enterprise.
Their brainchild, Deloozie’s, won them the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) regional business plan competition and secured them a mentor from Smith Barney as well as $1,200 in seed money.
Mohan believes part of what makes their business idea unique is their youthful perspective and “fun and quirky” ideas. Smoothies will be grouped, not by flavors, but by categories like “Oh, I forgot my breakfast!” and “Oh, I forgot my lunch!”
And each frozen beverage will come with funny facts and prizes will be awarded to customers who can correctly answer trivia questions, Mohan says.
Mohan and Chang are currently bolstering their business plan and fine tuning their flavors, with help from eager taste testers at the YMCA.
Next up, Mohan and Chang will compete with 28 other teen entrepreneurs from around the country, all of whom are top finishers of NFTE regional high school business plan competitions, for $10,000. The first annual Smith Barney/NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge will be held on Oct. 26 in New York City.
“My most immediate dream would be to win nationals,” Mohan said, after that he hopes his start-up will help pay for college.
More and more high schools are getting into the start-up game with entrepreneurial classes for students interested in learning about launching their own businesses.
“With massively accelerating dropout rates there is a desperate need to engage young people who are bored and withoutvision of their future,” said Michael Caslin, executive vice president for public policy at NFTE.
According to the Alliance for Excellence in Education, 3,000 high school students in the U.S. drop out each day.
Originally begun as a dropout prevention program, NFTE’s entrepreneurship education program teaches low-income students the business skills they need to start their own small business.
NFTE partners with schools to provide entrepreneurship educational training and creates curricula for classes.
Currently, NFTE is active in hundreds of high schools and 10 of the top 20 largest school districts.
“NFTE offers an implementation model that is rigorous, relevant and relationship-driven,” said Caslin who believes entrepreneurship is “a must-have experience in high school.”
Caslin says the American education system has failed today’s youth, especially in areas like math, reading and critical thinking.
“Education in the U.S. must be recast to include ways that reach out to high school students to promote basic skills learning in a practical context,” he said.
An emphasis on practical learning, he says, will help more young people learn how to be entrepreneurs and create their own wealth.
And that allows them, says Caslin, to control their own destiny.
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.