Two week-long entrepreneurship camps for high schoolers aimed to inspire students this summer, as they look ahead to their future careers.
The IUPUI Office of Community Engagement and the IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI hosted the BOSS (Business Opportunities for Self-Starters) Summer Entrepreneurship camps, which introduce Indianapolis high school students to the foundations of business.
The students from Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks, George Washington, and Shortridge High Schools spent the time learning more about what it means to be a small business owner and how to plan and develop a business.
“I’ve wanted to own my own business since I was in the fifth grade, so I knew I wanted to come to this camp to learn more,” said Raki Dem, a sophomore at Crispus Attucks. “In fifth grade I had a candy store where I sold chips and drinks, and in eight grade I helped my aunt with her lip gloss business. After high school, I want to go to college with a scholarship, and then I want to own my own business or go into the medical field.”
Guided by Kelley School of Business faculty and IUPUI student mentors, BOSS students spend a week coming up with business ideas, conducting concept and product research, comparing pricing and competitors, producing prototypes, and developing a business plan complete with marketing and logo ideas. On Friday, students pitch their business plan to a group of judges for cash prizes.
“At the end of the week, we have a group of young people who see their futures very differently than when they started.”
“During this BOSS Summer Camp – they said to be different,” added Raki, who ended up winning first place for her business. “We needed to find a problem and come up with a solution to the problem. So, I decided to create a clothing store that sells Halal clothing for the Muslim community. I’ve seen the need for more clothes that are fashionable and cute, but that are more targeted to the Muslim community.”
Emily Reyes, a recent graduate of Crispus Attucks, created a vegan restaurant designed to “change the way people see vegan food.”
“People see vegan food as bland, but I want to show them it can be a variety of things, like comfort food – and really delicious,” Emily said. “The most important thing I learned was how to plan and build your business – and then maintain it.”
“This is part of IUPUI’s engagement mission: for our faculty and students to be directly involved in our community,” said Teresa Bennett, assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Community Engagement at IUPUI.
“At the end of the week, we have a group of young people who see their futures very differently than when they started. They understand that owning a business can be a career – and it’s possible,” said Peggy Daniels Lee, Kelley School of Business clinical associate professor emeritus. “These students learn they can contribute to the economy in ways they didn’t think they could beforehand – and that makes a lasting impact.”
The hope of the program is to inspire confidence in students to consider a career as a small business owner or entrepreneur.
BOSS students also learn professionalism, and they receive a salary for their week of work – The camp is a job where you need to show up, participate, and demonstrate results. Throughout the week, students hear from business owners and other guest speakers who share insights into how business works. In addition to prize money from the pitch competition, students are also eligible for a $500 RaiseMe scholarship from IUPUI.
BOSS Camp is funded by a grant from the Governors Workforce Cabinet to the IPS Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, and support from the Kelley School of Business and the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement. The model was founded by Tim Scales, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Economic Education at IU East.
“This program showed me it’s possible. Anything is possible.”
“I’ve learned a lot of people don’t feel confident, but this gives me the confidence to keep going,” said Jormani Grimes, a sophomore at Arsenal Tech, who created a lash business, called Lashes and Glam Accessories. “I definitely have had my doubts, but I now know I want to make my business the best – to make it stand out, to be different. I’ve learned not to give up.”
“I’d never thought about being a business owner before BOSS Camp,” said MaKayla Long, also a sophomore at Shortridge High School. “The week was a really great experience. I learned I should never give up, even if you don’t succeed at some point. You should never give up, and you should keep trying to do what you want to do in life.”
MaKayla spent the week working on a business plan for her idea of a place for kids of all ages to go while parents are at work. She says she’d love to pursue business in college someday, too.
“I’d love to go to the Kelley School and study business. I want to start my own business, and I know it could take awhile. But this program showed me it’s possible. Anything is possible.”
For more information on the BOSS Summer Camp, contact Teresa Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org.