Sixteen teenagers assembled in a small conference overlooking the Fayetteville Square on Monday (June 22) to begin a week long study of entrepreneurship and starting their own business.
The teenagers from schools in Fayetteville (including Haas Hall Academy), Greenland, Farmington and elsewhere in the Northwest Arkansas community are participating in the fourth annual Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp, co-sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and Start Up Junkie Consulting.
The week-long camp is being held in the Start Up offices in the Pryor Center building in downtown Fayetteville, and is under the direction of Haley Cleous, an associate consultant at Start Up Junkie. Students in the camp will get hands-on experience in business development and a look at the high tech side of entrepreneurship when they tour the Wal-Mart innovation laboratory, known as the 415C Lab in Bentonville.
Instructional sessions will focus on marketing, management an operations, and financing a venture. The campers will hear presentations from local entrepreneurs who have started successful businesses.
Josh Moody, CEO of Overwatch, knows just how hard it is to start a company from the ground up. He founded Overwatch at 17 when he was a senior at Little Rock Catholic High School. Moody continues to work full-time on his venture, which was one of the ARK Challenge winners in 2013. Overwatch is still trying to bring its video gaming hardware to market later this year.
Picosolar CEO Douglas Hutchings is also on tap to speak to the budding entrepreneurs. Hutchings’ solar startup was recently named an Edison Award finalist for its hydrogen super emitter solar cell.
Lauren and Lance Stokes of Lauren James Clothing in Fayetteville, are also slated to talk to the teen entrepreneurs this week. The Stokes’ designer clothing line began as an online store in 2013 has evolved from a wholesale business to its first corporate store located on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. Lauren Stokes began sketching dresses to pass the time when she placed on bed rest prior to the birth of her son. A nurse by trade, Stokes said she her passion for fashion and design became a reality after the birth of her son.
Working in teams, the students will develop a sixty-second elevator pitch in a competition that will be judged by entrepreneurs, advocates and local professionals. The winning team will receive $500 in seed money to start their own business and a full year’s worth of legal advise from Clark Law Firm.