Can you teach entrepreneurship? INCubatoredu, an entrepreneurship program out of Illinois nonprofit Uncharted Learning, believes so.
And schools seem to agree: Since launching in 2013, the nonprofit has scaled their entrepreneurship education programs from one Illinois high school to teaching 2,000 students across eight states.
Their year-long entrepreneurship curriculum covers every step of the startup process from creating an MVP to customer discovery, and culminates in a pitch competition where students can receive real seed funding from donors (they also host a nationwide pitch competition). Their program has facilitated the launch of successful student business that range from food waste reduction to tech tutoring services.
Perhaps the better question is not whether you can teach entrepreneurship, but what is the best way to teach entrepreneurship: What are the key principles and experiences that turn lessons in the classroom into businesses in the real world? We asked INCubatoredu and Uncharted Learning leaders, mentors and teachers to weigh in on what makes an effective classroom for startups. Here are their thoughts.
“We stress giving students an authentic experience around entrepreneurship — and that means giving them the full range of experiences involved in going from initial idea, to business concept, to market testing, and funding. In all that, students are learning the tools that real entrepreneurs are using to succeed in today’s marketplace.” –Michael Miles, entrepreneur and founder of INCubatoredu.
“I believe this class is the most important class a high school student can take, regardless of what career they eventually pursue. And here’s why: Learning how to start and run a business are life changing skills — and the experience builds confidence for navigating in an ambiguous environment. INCubatoredu grounds students in the lessons of going from an idea to something real — and, in the process, they learn from professionals who have been on the front lines.” –Greg Lernihan, cofounder Convergint Technologies 2001, managing director at Impact Engine, Managing Director at Impact Engine, INCubatoredu Coach/Mentor
“The best learning happens when doing something in a real-world setting. Give students the opportunity to work with real tools, in a real way, with the right guidance and they will soar.” -Jessi Chartier, founder of Mobile Makers Academy and director of programs at Uncharted Learning
“The INCubatoredu program lends itself to a Silicon Valley inspired “fail fast, fail often” mindset. This is done through the lean process of focusing on continued experimentation. The trick is to get the students comfortable with “failing.” We do this by finding passion and excitement in the process. In knowing that every “no “can be a path to a bigger yes. In knowing that if you continue to grow as a business you may one day build something that will change the world.” -Nick Pahl, INCubatoredu teacher, Dundee Crown High School
“The INCubator program goes beyond a classroom, academic exercise by exposing students to the realities of real-life entrepreneurs. As a result they learn more and faster since they are applying these skills to their own start-up concept. When I was starting my first business I wished I had the benefit of first attending a program like INCubatoredu. As a coach in the program, I am able to share what I have learned through trial and error in my different endeavors and provide mentoring, advice and guidance to future entrepreneurs.” -Cara Kretz, cofounder of ITA software, founding board member and coach at INCubatoredu
(Image via Pexels)