Inspired by a local high school teacher’s motivation to teach his students about entrepreneurship, LiftFund’s Women’s Business Center is starting a new Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Ernesto Guerrero, an economics teacher at Sam Houston High School, reached out to LiftFund to help develop the original curriculum for his students. Through this partnership his students learned how to develop a concept for a startup and in six weeks gave formal presentations at the One Million Cups Pitch event hosted by Café Commerce.
“I wanted to give my students a project that wouldn’t die at my desk,” Ernesto said.
The students, who were led by WBC business advisor Carlos Acosta, formed startup teams that went from the ideation stage to a formal pitch presentation, studying business models and meeting weekly. The teams developed ideas for products and services that addressed a need in the community. A preliminary competition, held at the school, determined the top two teams that would go on to present at One Million Cups.
Seniors Laura Vasquez and Esperanza Cardenas presented Pinkle Box, a jewelry subscription service that ships members a box of assorted jewelry for any occasion. They believe that jewelry is a way of expression, and with their service they want to make jewelry more convenient and affordable.
“We entered this program because to us, business and entrepreneurship is a way for us to have a successful future,” said Laura. “We’re excited to see where this can go.”
Senior Eklipse Valdez wants to create a subscription service that will bring customers a customizable box of feminine hygiene and other personal care products every month. Thanks to her research and personal experience, she felt confident presenting her business idea, Hygienie, to the experienced audience at One Million Cups.
“LiftFund staff helped teach me how to sell my idea and keep the audience interested,” she said. “I think the audience feedback was really interesting and will help me in the long run.”
Both groups want to pursue their business ideas after graduation. To Mr. Guerrero and Mr. Acosta, creating this opportunity for these graduates is everything.
“We wanted to provide a different path for students who decide to do something other than go to college, military, or the workforce,” said Carlos. “I see this entrepreneurial spirit in high schoolers all the time, so I wanted to give them the message that they’re not just a kid.”
Students are given the same tools as entrepreneurs at Women’s Business Center and Café Commerce, “and if they’re serious about pursuing their idea beyond this class, they can compete in the Venture Challenge to get seed funding,” said Carlos. “This is a real option for them.”
This is the Women’s Business Center’s second year working with Sam Houston High School students, and the Young Entrepreneurship Program is being developed with the hopes of expanding it to other area high schools.
LiftFund is proud to offer so many opportunities to young entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Our goal is to provide the business resources, the business tools, and business loans to the biggest possible impact. Sometimes businesses just need a lift, and that is why we exist