This venture was clearly an investment in the future as Harvard Business School (HBS), the Harvard Ed Portal, and the Harvard i-lab presented 30 local high school students front-row seats to how entrepreneurship works.
“So many people may have million-dollar ideas, but don’t know what to do with [them or] how to get started,” said Evander Pierre, a senior at Brighton High School (BHS) who hopes to start his own business. “It was amazing … to meet someone who has done something with their own idea, to have someone show you the way — that can change the future. I have a lot that I want to achieve, and this was an experience that will help put me on that path.”
Wombi Rose, co-founder of Lovepop Cards, a company recognized from the TV shows “Shark Tank” and “The View,” met with students from BHS, Boston Public School’s Another Course to College and the West End House Boys and Girls Club.
A highlight was the 2016 New Venture Competition (NVC) at HBS, where they saw students and alumni compete for more than $230,000 in startup funding.
“This is our second year working with Harvard, and it’s a really high-level opportunity for our students,” said Daniel Cuddy, a teacher at BHS and senior career specialist with the Boston Private Industry Council, an organization that connects Boston citizens to education and employment opportunities.
“They learn about the creative thinking and critical thinking that are so important to running a startup,” he said. “The experience also underscores academics, getting a strong background in coding, engineering, IT, and math. So they get a great idea of how companies start, how they work, and where they as individuals need to grow.”
During the high school students’ participation in an entrepreneurial workshop, they brainstormed in groups, identifying problems and devising solutions. They envisioned an app that allowed customers to try on clothes digitally and a silent jackhammer that wouldn’t interrupt construction so students could work without noise disruption.
“I loved being able to share my ideas in the workshop,” said Ivcel Ramos, a senior at Brighton High. “When I was little, I had lots of business ideas; there were just so many things I wanted to do. I’m very artistic and want to express my ideas through my work. This experience definitely motivated me to do much better in school, and to take advantage of every opportunity that I can. I really want to build my way to the top.”
Julia Kemp, associate director of The Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, said the event was “all about discovery.”
In the workshop, the students “came up with some high-caliber ideas,” she said. “These could be future applicants to Harvard or to HBS, so it felt very rewarding to work with them. We were blown away by how clever they were, and it was great to share that passion for entrepreneurship with them.”
“We’re very thankful to Harvard as a partner,” Cuddy said. “It means a lot to inner-city youth to get access to Harvard Business School and connect with these coaches, leaders, and adults. It’s so important to our students, and it’s wonderful for them to interact with people who are really motivated and leading the way.”
Winners from the New Venture Competition finale