Technology has emerged as a key theme for The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship as we move into 2013. Many of our new programs involve digital learning or coursework focused on combining the practical lessons of computer coding, social media outreach, emerging technologies such as Skype and cloud computing, and app development with entrepreneurship lessons. These skills can help capture students’ creative energy, and give them a chance to succeed with useful skills in the modern economy.
Our New York office recently held their Next Generation Tech Challenge that was created to maximize the impact of NFTE’s GenTech program. Designed for students who have a passion for technology to create a business out of this interest, they learned how to develop mobile applications. Each group had to create a business plan to showcase their app, which helped the students focus on molding the technological side of their inventions into an entrepreneurial vehicle. NFTE New York Metro Program Director Jordan Runge summarized the goal as showing students “"the fundamentals of what they need to know in terms of entrepreneurship and starting a business, through the lens of start-up companies in the tech sector."
We are grateful for Microsoft’s lead support of our GenTech initiative. Ryan H, a Junior from Brooklyn, could easily see the impact that these tech-centric lessons were having. “…Learning these coding languages will [really] help me in the future.” Ashley, a Junior from Queens, was more focused on the entrepreneurial aspect of the competition, saying “I can’t even look at advertisements the same way anymore because I keep thinking about who’s the customer.” This idea is central to NFTE’s mission; turning street smarts into business smarts and applying classroom ideas to real life through entrepreneurship education.
Ornella, a Junior from Queens, learned perhaps the most important lesson of the program. “I have learned to never give up on your ideas. Be focus and determined.”
Outside the world of technology, NFTE New England hosted a successful 7th Annual Young Entrepreneurs Conference (YEC) in March. 300 students came to experience a myriad of business development and career seminars. There was a workshop on perfecting presentations skills, a great session about college admissions and financial aid, and a dedicated room for coaches to help students with their business plans. One of the keynote speakers was Abby Fichtner, of the Harvard Innovation Lab and Hacker Chick Labs, who led NFTE students through how to get their business up online, from a landing page, survey tools and a website, to using an online marketplace platform. The event was a great success and further instilled NFTE’s mission in those in attendance: that all young people will find a pathway to success.
Some of the winners from the competitions held at the YEC, including the one-minute Rocket Pitch Challenge, will advance to Regional Finals for New England and the chance to compete at the National Finals in October.
Looking ahead in spring 2013, NFTE programs around the country will be focused on coaching students as they prepare for regional business plan competitions. At these Challenge events, students who have honed their business plans and pitches in the classroom will get the chance to present their ideas before panels of judges, competing for seed capital funding.
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