A few weeks back, I had the privilege of presenting to both the local elementary and middle school a course on entrepreneurship. It was truly eye opening to see how sharp and brand conscious these young students were.
My first experience consisted of sharing with my son Luke’s sixth grade Seminar English class the importance and power of PR when launching a new business or product into the market. Like sponges, these kids soaked in all of the key points I delivered knowing they were going to be asked to create their own business and promote it in a launch event.
The small San Diego community where our kids go to school is much like Mayberry. Families try their best to support local merchants and keep business in the “family.” One of the community’s favorite Chinese restaurants recently closed shop, leaving a nice opportunity for a new small business to gain easy freeway access and a local community following. So I asked, “Kids, if you could create a business that would reside in the former La China spot, what would it be?”
There were six tables of about 5-6 students. One group came up with a drive-thru coffee shop to contend with Starbucks called Koffee Koffee, another a sports store called Sports Shack, Below Zero was a frozen yogurt shop, What the Waffle was a new take on serving waffles for every meal, Flash Back 50s was a Sonic Burger-type restaurant with roller skating waiters, and then there was Break Fast All-Day, for those looking to eat their mainstay of eggs, bacon or pancakes at any time of day. The students took into account proximity of other like businesses, how they could get a local celebrity involved, a good cause to align their new business with, and a hook to capture customers’ hearts.
Students had to write a news release announcing the launch of their tables’ business. After working in PR and aiding some of the most successful entrepreneurs over the past 25 years, it was amazing to see how quickly these young students caught on to the concepts of creating a business and launching it. It was a breath of fresh air to know that there is great hope for the upcoming entrepreneurs looking to create a unique niche and provide value to their customers.
The students who came up with the Sports Shack idea developed a launch event that included former Tierrasanta resident Tony Hawk as a draw to MC a 10K race and offer free skate lessons for new customers. Koffee Koffee founders included Michelle Obama in their news release stating that she has never tasted a better brew. It was obvious that these students’ business ideas were mostly driven by the convenience factor…finding a new business that was not currently available in the immediate area.
Two weeks later, I presented at Career Day to K-5th graders some ideas about PR and the types of things we do at Eye-To-Eye Communications to promote our clients’ products and services. At the end of one of my presentations, a group of 5th grade girls came up to me and told me they were starting their own organic baby food business and filled out the application to get on Shark Tank.
The take-away: kids are gaining exposure to the American dream and entrepreneurship through shows like Shark Tank, which is great. Maybe we should create some practical curriculum to get them working towards these goals before leaving high school.
Our kids have been blessed with great science, music and technology programs at their K-8 public schools. Yet, I’d love to see business communications courses made available for these young students to boost their understanding of entrepreneurial planning, personal branding, how to create a logo/identity, and using content management systems like WordPress to create a website…even simple video editing. Young students today are so naturally immersed in technology much of this would be second nature.
We are still waiting to see what business will take over the “La China” spot. It will be quite validating if it ends up being something along the lines of what these bright students suggested. I’m voting for Break Fast All Day. Not just because Luke was involved with creating that idea, I’m just an eggs & potatoes kinda gal!