Thank you to Katherine Roan, one of our amazing community members for contributing this post.
Our story is a little bit different to those you would normally read on the CtF blogs. We didn’t have any robots, Apps or a coding class but we did have an idea. As it turns out, an idea is all we needed.
After realizing that there weren’t too many opportunities for high school students to experience and develop entrepreneurial thinking, a group of educators and I set out to do what teachers do best; make something out of nothing. We spent a few months reaching out to anyone and everyone that had a mild interest in entrepreneurship and/or education in the hope that there would be someone out there that could help us create a startup event specifically for high school kids. The craziest thing is that every time we shared our vision with someone new, we were met with the same question:
“Do you know Code the Future?”
After about the third time, we decided that it was time we reached out to this group and to our surprise we received a response from the lovely co-founder, Bec, suggesting that we share our idea with the CtF community. Knowing that we had nothing to lose, we posted a brief project out to the community and within the week, we met our first industry mentor – long standing CtF community member John Sherwood. This was only the very start of our relationship with CtF…
Many months and multiple disappointments after we first posted our idea, it was evident that the team at CtF had not forgotten about our little dream. Sending out a final call for support, CtF continued to show their faith in our idea by having a CtF representative, Community Manager Jarod Guthrie, come on board as a mentor/workshop facilitator for the event.
The event – The High School Entrepreneur
Venue: Collective Campus
Attendees: 16 curious senior school students representing 5 different schools from around Melbourne
Perks: Free food for all
Cost: Free for all students (thanks to the Victorian Government)
This 3 day event saw a random group of curious senior school students come together and work collaboratively to solve a challenge posed by the Foundation for Young Australians specifically for this event:
How do we give kids the opportunity to develop enterprise skills?
Over the course of the event, students engaged in a series of workshops around marketing, business canvas modeling as well as pitching. Throughout this time, students also had the opportunity to receive professional advice from industry mentors to help refine their ideas.
The energy throughout the 3 days was electric. The level of curiosity, creativity and boldness that was displayed by every student was inspiring. We had students break past their own comfort zones and conduct market research with the general public, groups reaching out to current businesses such as Boost Juice, ATAR notes and Matcha Maiden as well as those who had their product purchased even before it was even built!
Although every team experienced their own successes, there was one team that showed incredible initiative and perseverance. Ripples Innovation impressed the feedback panel with the development of a fully functioning website that aimed to connect businesses/entrepreneurs with school students in an attempt to give students the opportunity to solve real life problems and possibly have it implemented in a real business. The group were asked to present their pitch at FYA headquarters and it is to no surprise that the team at FYA were extremely impressed with everything that Ripples Innovation had to offer.
Kids are pretty honest and our survey was no exception. There was an overwhelming belief that the success of the event rested on the presence and guidance from industry mentors; two of which we met through the CtF community. It is safe to say that without the CtF team, our event would not have inspired that kids the way that it has. We have seen kids move on to explore work experience opportunities in local startups, pursue the dream of professional racing, create lifelong friendships and start to realise their true capacity.
To the mentors out there, you have absolutely no idea the impact you could have on lives of the kids who will eventually work with. To CtF, we hope you realise that you’re not only giving them the skills, you’re giving them permission to dream.
All we can say is that with a community like this, anything is possible.
Katherine Roan is a passionate Secondary Teacher at Roxburgh Park College. She also runs a food truck business ‘Paper Plains’ with her younger sister Ang.
After being frustrated at the lack of entrepreneurial skills that her students were being exposed to, she organised and ran a three-day ‘Highschool Entrepreneur’ program in Melbourne.
At the end of the three days’ students presented their innovative solutions for improving entrepreneurial education in schools. The weekend attracted over a dozen mentors from industry and the winning team presented at the Foundation for Young Australians office in Melbourne. She recruited two mentors through Code the Future to assist over the 3 days.