Urban Rising Group’s summer got off to a great start with two of my faves: young people and entrepreneurship! In June, I had the unique privilege of serving as a mentor and judge for the Youth BizCamp sponsored by the L.A. Urban League Entrepreneurship Center and National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Los Angeles. This program gathered pre-teens and teens for an intense bootcamp where they learned the fundamentals of business development from marketing and feasibility research to forecasting–in two weeks!
Throughout the camp, mentors support the youth with narrowing their business ideas, conducting their market research and preparing their pitches. Applying the lessons gained from the intense business curriculum, the participants then developed a presentation and pitch that was judged by adult business owners, nonprofit and civic leaders for a $1000 prize, and the opportunity to compete at the regional and national level.
The young people were so energetic and dynamic! I could not believe the ideas they developed such as a T-shirt company with a social mission a la Tom’s, an empowerment nonprofit for young girls and a beat-making cloud-sharing service. My fellow judges and I had such a difficult time selecting a young person to advance to the next stage! We went round and round in intense debate to finally select our top candidates. Among them, the ultimate grand prize winner was chosen: 15-year old Elijah Jobe who developed Hoop Dreamz, an app that allows people to use geodata to locate nearby pick-up basketball games and tournaments. Innovative, tech-minded and ripe for marketing tie-ins with the NBA and other sports brands!!
It was so awesome to be in a space with such fresh and original ideas and boundless energy. An important priority of URG’s is to serve the community in ways that empower and uplift. This opportunity allowed us to do just that. Planting and cultivating the seeds of entrepreneurship in a new generation definitely makes my heart sing. What are the causes that are important to your organization? Do you make it a priority to create opportunities for you and your staff to serve in those areas? It can be a great morale-booster and team-builder!