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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Partner Spotlight: Camp BizSmart & Getting Started as a Youth Entrepreneur

Our CEO, Andrea shares about her experience teaching at Camp BizSmart.

I was invited to be a guest faculty member at Camp BizSmart this summer, which takes place on the Stanford campus.  What is Camp BizSmart?  It's a summer entrepreneur academy for young people ages 11 - 15 that takes place in the Silicon Valley, CA.  CNN Money named them as one of the most unique camps in the United States!  
Students come from all around the world as far as India and China, but mainly the United States and get their hands and feet wet in product design and marketing.  While a few students come to camp with their own company ideas, most students are just eager to learn more about the world of business.  

To sum it up - teenagers get to go to camp for 2 weeks, learn directly from company executives, and solve REAL business problems for companies.  How cool is that?  You might ask - what does a 13 year old know about solving a company's problems?  

Well more and more companies (Piggybackr included) are realizing that Millennials (anyone born in the 1980's or later) use technology and buy products differently than previous generations - so they have incredibly important insights.  We here at Piggybackr took it so seriously, that Reed Kavner, our VP of Product came along to take notes.

Our Head of Product, Reed with Dr. Mike Gibbs, Founder of CampBizSmart
Photo Courtesy of CampBizSmart
I taught the students how to crowdfund, shared a tips on how to start a company, and presented a mini business case to them.  Student teams were asked to help redesign Piggybackr's landing page.  For anyone who runs a web-based company, your landing page is very important - it's like your storefront.  

Teams were given about 25 minutes to redesign our landing page so that it would appeal to other young people like themselves.  I was blown away by the students' work.  From some unexpected ideas like "you should add a game to the landing page so kids come to play" to incredibly insightful ones like "your color scheme is too similar to Facebook - it needs to be brighter," we were blown away!

At the end of each class, each team presented their feedback and we got to choose our favorite teams.   We've already started incorporating some of the student's feedback.  Anyone notice the brighter blue color in our navigation bar?  At the end of the camp, teams work on their own projects and even get to pitch ideas to a real panel of investors.  

Winning CampBizSmart team during Class #3, Stanford CA
Photo Courtesy of CampBizSmart
Young people often ask me "Andrea, how do you become an entrepreneur and start your own company?"  I'll admit that being in the Silicon Valley makes it easier because people are always open to new ideas - everyone either works for a start-up or knows someone who does. The short answer is learn as much as you can wherever you are.  Ask people who you think are interesting if they are will give you advice.  It's never too early to start.  There are a ton of opportunities out there to learn, things like a Camp BizSmart, that are designed to help you take your first steps.

Though camp is over, and school's about to start, many Camp BizSmart students are thinking about their ideas and how to take them to the next level.  In the next few weeks, we'll see Camp BizSmart students launch team fundraising projects on Piggybackr to get funding to take their projects to the next level.  Stay tuned!  Thank you Dr. Mike and Peggy Gibbs and Camp BizSmart for a wonderful summer! 

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