The Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk County is in full session and students are endeavoring to fine tune their business ideas before January when the second phase of the Academy begins. In October, students kicked off class with a pizza party and ice breaker games at Southeastern University and ended the class with brainstorming ideas based on the students’ skills and passions. The class ended with a presentation by Dr. Daryl Ward, Harrison School of the Arts, about asking the “right” questions and the power of “Combinatorial Thinking.”
Mr. Patrick Dooley, Instructor for phase 1 of the Academy
The second class, the students – along with Instructor Patrick Dooley, a certified mentor with Central Florida SCORE – toured the campus of Florida Polytechnic University and continued brainstorming ideas with the guidance of Jason Heacock, Entrepreneurship Center Coordinator at Florida Poly, including a game called “Idea Jab” that encourages creative teamwork to fulfill a need for a specific market.
Students on Florida Polytechnic University fieldtrip
The students continue to work on their businesses and its feasibility – learning about market research, surveys, SWOT analysis, and strategy and implementation (product, price, place, and promotion) and the importance of creating a prototype and / or proof of concept for their business ideas. They were also introduced to the Business Plan and the importance of it.
Between the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, students will take a field trip to Jet’s Pizza of Lakeland to learn about food franchises and the food & beverage industry; discover financing strategies, design concepts, and legal services for small businesses with guest speaker Steve Aycock of Cygnet IP Law.
The 2017-18 academic year culminates with the Shark Tank Investor Panel in April and the Trade Show at the Lakeland Chamber Business After Hours in May.
The 2017-18 academic class consists of 14 students representing ages 12 to 18; five females, and 9 males; and, from all over Polk County. Schools represented include All Saints Academy, Haines City High School, Highlands Christian Academy, Lake Wales IB, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Mulberry High School, Polk State Gateway to College Collegiate High School, and Thomas Christian Academy.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, a chapter of the Lakeland Chamber, is only the fifth chapter in Florida. LkldTV captures the magic of the program in their video from last year’s trade show: http://lkldtv.com/2017/05/24/young-entrepreneurs-academy/.
The YEA! Polk Sponsors – Allen & Company of Florida, Inc, Citrus Center Kiwanis, and Maximize Digital – and, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce are helping to build the next generation of business leaders in Polk County.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a 30-week program for students, ages 11-18, where students start and run their own business and form connections with community leaders. The program will feature guest speakers from businesses and five field trips. The program has three main sections: the big idea, the pitch and the launch. In the big idea phase, students brainstorm ideas, explore their passions, and learn how to evaluate a business opportunity.