Founding a new business with duct tape

Founding a new business with duct tape

October 23, 2014

The organizers of a program that brought 28 high school students to the Skidmore campus for a six-day "entrepreneurship camp" this summer are determined to repeat it next year and have launched a fund-raising effort with the aim of awarding more scholarships.

Albany High School students Chantel Polk and
Skeine established their enterprise in
spoken-word performance art in front of the

Broadway Salon.

Called EntrePrep™, the program challenged high school students from four Capital District high schools to launch and run their own business for a day while providing 20 hours of classroom support. One new venture — appropriately named ‘STUCK!’ — generated $308 through the sale of hand-crafted duct tape key chains, pens and book marks from a location in front of Plum Dandy on Broadway.

 Another — called "Embrace" — explored the revenue-generating potential of spoken-word performance art.

"We give these talented young people a highly stimulating environment with many teachable moments,"
 said Carrie McEndoe, the entrepreneur who, working with the National Council on Economic Education, founded EntrePrep five years ago with a grant from the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation. “They learn through direct experience key lessons about effective time management, teamwork, networking, and fundamentals of finance and economics."

 "Some may become entrepreneurs, but all will better understand business," she continued. "Ultimately, we believe these teens will be better prepared to effectively participate and grow in our increasingly complex, interconnected and entrepreneurial global economy.” 

There are no limits to the kind of new businesses the participants might launch, but there are three hard-nosed requirements they must satisfy.

  • they must make their idea operational;
  • they must document their business with financials and an executive summary;
  • they must make a PowerPoint presentation in which they list for their teachers, colleagues and family members the lessons they learned in developing their business from concept to reality. 

Among those teaching the program this summer were Skidmore administrators and faculty members Paul Calhoun, dean of Special Programs; Tim Harper, chair of management and business; and Roy Rotheim, professor of economics. Guest speakers included Paul Stewart, director of training and technical assistance with the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, and Saratoga Springs-based direct response strategist Cheryl Paulsen.

“We learned you have to be prepared for anything and make yourself flexible,” said Jada Belton, a senior at Shaker High School in Latham. “Time management is very important. And not all ideas are opportunities.”


Tags: EntrePrep, entrepreneurship