StartUp Teens is a new non-profit initiative started by successful founders, like Verena Pausder (founder of Fox & Sheep), interested in getting younger people involved in the start-up ecosystem. The organization visits schools around the country, getting 14-19 year olds excited about entrepreneurship. Students can then go online to find a wealth of information from experienced people in the industry and start building their ventures. Finally a business plan competition will be held in Berlin on the 30th of June, where students can win 10,000 Euros in seven categories to develop their business. Verena says StartUp Teens is where her “network comes to life” and that there has been an absolute positive response to the initiative.
“We want Germany to get it right in terms of building the companies of the future and having entrepreneurship not only as a lifestyle in Mitte but also what younger people strive for.”
She adds, “In German schools teenagers don’t really get taught what entrepreneurship is.”
StartUp Teens aims to fill that gap by getting students excited about the idea of entrepreneurship and informed about what it takes to found your own company. So far almost 20,000 teenagers have been reached and the project is only gaining traction.
Teenagers excited about entrepreneurship
Students have responded with enthusiasm. “We have about 1500 teenagers every week watching the online training. We have a lot of teenagers that say: ‘How can we join?’ It is an absolute positive response from the teenagers and whoever else you talk to. Everyone opens the door and asks: ‘how can I help’?”
Specifically, older teens looking at universities and next steps after high school benefit from StartUp Teens. They can explore starting their own project with the guidance of experienced and successful entrepreneurs.
The online training
When deciding the content for the online training, Pausder says, “The core team asked ourselves: what are the things you have to know? What is an entrepreneur? What is a good idea? Do I need a team and if yes, who? What are keys parts of a business plan. How do I market? How do I present?”
To that end, the training includes information for students who are total beginners to those who want to write a business plan and present it in front of investors.
“There are also short sessions (two to five minutes) which can be consumed on the tram on their way to school,” she says. “They can access everything on the website and on Thursday night the next lesson is presented.”
The calendar follows a regular school calendar and leads up to April, where students will start completing their business ideas for the final pitch competition.
“We have a lot of teenagers that say: ‘How can we join?'”
As Pausder notes, “Our aim is not to say ‘you all have to be founders’. It is more like: you don’t only study something to become something. Study it also with the idea that maybe you might have your own business afterwards.”
Students are also encouraged to participate in the program again and submit new, more polished business plans the next year.
If a group wins, the prize must be used for educational purposes. With the help of the entrepreneurs, students can invest their prizes in interesting ways. “For example, if you want to improve your English, we might encourage a student to take a two week course in Tel Aviv. That way, you also grow your perspective.”
Verena hopes StartUp Teens will continue to grow. “This year is about setting the foundation and spreading the news. And then we will scale it from there.”
We wish StartUp Teens the best of luck!
For more information, visit: http://www.startupteens.de/