“It really made a difference for the students. It lit a fire for them.”
Have you ever wondered how high school dreamers became successful entrepreneurs?
Welcome fellow teen startup wizard! In this post, we’ll discover how high school students create successful businesses.
Within an earlier post, we offered some practical ideas and provided inspiration for you to get started. We’ll now turn to a more interesting topic: how did high school entrepreneurs succeed after they decided to get started?
For some teens, such as Oliver Oglesby, they become successful soon after having a transformational experience. But for most high school startups and teen innovators, success comes much later in life. Why is that?
Here’s the honest answer: most of us end up failing multiple times. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with failing. Seriously, failures are good. Failing means that you were bold, jumped out of your comfort zone, and took a risk worth taking.
What sets you apart as an entrepreneur is not whether you succeed; actually, what matters is your resilience and how many times you’re willing to fail and learn.
Many high school students also have to deal with real social and economic barriers. This certainly was the case for Reetu Gupta, entrepreneur and founder of Cirkled in, which seeks to “Capture and compile kids’ and students’ school life achievements.” When reflecting on her experiences as a female teen while in India, Reetu has this to share: “I don’t have any brothers and India is still a very male-dominated society. When I was growing up, it was really bad…It used to boil my blood. I was very frustrated.'” (source)
Some of you might feel like Reetu right now and have to deal with circumstances outside of your control. That’s OK. Hopefully, you’ll get your chance soon. Another useful quote from Reetu expresses this difficult reality of startups: “One thing I will say is know what you are getting into. Entrepreneurship is very glamorized. You hear about 20-year-old billionaires, you hear about success stories…You do not hear all the failures of the startups that did not go anywhere, didn’t get any funding and died.” (source)
Although you might find this last quote discouraging, you can also see it as liberating. You now have the freedom to experiment, play around, and learn from your mistakes—without any repercussions. By all means, take advantage of your limited opportunity to get your hands dirty with many ventures. You can also seek out advice ahead of time.
Here’s an example. One eager high school student fascinated with tech startups posed this question on Quora:
Some potentially useful tips include start building stuff, be flexible with yourself, and this last quote:
“Start super small. Don’t try and build a million-dollar company. Try to build something small that you are interested in and start selling a few. Grow organically and enjoy all the lessons along the way.” (Jake Plunkett)
The teens who participated made plenty of mistakes and received valuable feedback. Here’s what was learned:
- Students work harder, better and deeper when the stakes are real
- Working for local startups creates real world intensity and urgency in the course
- [Teens] freak out, get paralyzed and waste time doing so. It’s all part of the learning process
As an aspiring young entrepreneur, you have plenty of time to play around. Enjoy your journey however long it takes.
Which teen startups and entrepreneurs inspire you? We’d enjoy hearing what your passions are!
Contributed by Nick Fochtman
“I am always looking for opportunities to push the boundaries of what I know to help me continue to expand my horizons.”
Name: Maya Haria
Home Country: United Kingdom
Education: University of Warwick
Passions and Interests: Field hockey, traveling, and international development
Transformational Experience: Dominican Republic: Building a Sustainable World™
Making an Impact: Raised $8,000 and helped to start a micro-enterprise program based on small-scale cacao plantations in the Dominican Republic
Most people who plant seedlings in the ground have modest hopes for their garden: a lovely view, perhaps, or even some vegetables to use for homemade recipes. And while Maya Haria is modest about her accomplishments, her ambitions and achievements are anything but.
Her goal? To raise $8,000 to fund a cacao plantation project in the Dominican Republic.
$8,000 is no small amount of change, so Maya put a plan in place to raise all the money she needed to fund the project, with the help of others involved. She held bake sales. She raised money through online, charitable giving pages. And she even encouraged family and friends to pitch in what they could. In the end, she raised the funds to get her cacao project off the ground.
The end result? Several greenhouses constructed from foundation to ceiling, and two completed cacao plantations, contributing to a total of 10,000 cacao plants.
Maya’s journey began when she first attend the Building a Sustainable World™ program through GLA in the DR back in 2012. She selected this program not only for its focus on environmental conservation, but also for its commitment to the people in these Dominican communities.
One of the main reasons I chose my GLA program was the focus on sustainability, and being able to be a part of projects and initiatives that are designed to be sustainable means that every time you help someone, you know that you aren’t just helping one person. You are starting something that will continue to impact the lives of them, their families and the people around them.”
Along the way, something changed. While her initial focus was on sustainability, she realized she was much in “a much better position to pinpoint” problems and solutions at the macro level – looking at the scale of the problem for a distance to find solutions that are sensible and effective over the long-term. Neither Maya nor her parents had expected such a dramatic shift in her viewpoint.
Prior to my first GLA trip, I think my parents underestimated the impact that it would have on me and on the next few years of my life. Having returned to the Dominican Republic for two more summers, they have definitely seen the impact that my GLA program has had on my life, and how it has influenced the direction that I have chosen to take… My program choice definitely expanded my understanding and passion for international development. I am now studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and am interested at looking at development from the point of view of policy-making and economic development, building on the experience that I have had through my GLA program and with 7 Elements.”
Maya decided on the cacao plantation project because it was something that could be replicated by others. This pilot project will allow local Dominicans to profit off of these cacao plants over the long term, and she was involved from the initial planning stages to the final construction. Maya plans for more in the future.
Her plans for the future are not set in stone yet, but she’s committed to doing something meaningful with her time and energy now that she’s had a taste of what these kinds of projects can mean to people in-need. She said of her future goals:
Ideally I would like to have influence at a macro level, whether it be related to policy-making or using my skills to have a strong involvement in the non-profit side of the career path that I choose to pursue.”
Maya is currently attending the University of Warwick, where she is on a committee that organized a sports and activities day for 200 disabled children, and supports ‘Mind’, a mental health charity.
Program Maya attended:
Curious about exploring your own GLA adventure? Check these out:
- GLA Dominican Republic: Building a Sustainable World™
- GLA Dominican Republic: Global Health Initiative™
- GLA Dominican Republic: Beachside Service Adventure
- GLA Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure
Last year, the Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies [Read more…]