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Creating the next generation of business entrepreneurs

I always wanted to have my own business.  It started when I was in 8th grade.  My high school had tracks students could select that included engineering, trades, liberal arts, and business.  As the oldest in my family, my parents took these selections seriously and pushed me to think of my future.  Everything I was interested in was "hands-on" but there was no track for that - so why not business.  That way I could do almost anything right?

Fast forward 30 years.  A finance degree, MBA, and 20 years of technology based business development behind me - and still not running my own business... what happened?

Well part of it was that I became engrossed in what I was doing and it was a successful path.  The larger part in reality was that taking that step, that big step, was daunting.  Like many "blocks" in life fear was the underlying block, that lizard brain.

Then I got involved with a non-profit witht the goal of inspiring students to become technology leaders.  I became a contributor to the admirable success of this organization.  A light bulb turned on and I saw a path to inspire the next generation of entreprenuers starting at the high school level.  The Biz-Gen idea was forming.

The iterations came quickly after many months of brainstorming and connecting with others.  The two part theme took shape - the current generation of high school students don't seem to have the same pioneering spirit that has characterized previous generaations of entrepreneurs.  Their activities are more structured, their time consumed by back-to-back events and down time with video games and other versions of screen time. 

The second part of the theme - tools of business creation have changed dramatically in just 10 years democracizing new business creation.  The examples abound from businesses that serve the "long tail" described in Chris Anderson's book to virtual companies that can outsource even small scale manufacturing.  Connection enablers built via the internet have broken down almost all barriers.

So why do we care? There are multiple reasons.  At a macro level small business comprises over half of the jobs in this country and distributes wealth more equitably than big business.  The evolution of our country was built upon a pioneering entreprenurial spirit.  That resulted in many of the inventions, break throughs, and businesses familiar to us today.  More directly, it resulted in the standard of living we all enjoy.

At a micro level, what do we want our children to do?  We want them to thrive, contribute, help others, and grow.  We want them to enjoy a standard of living better than we had.  Can they do this in an economy that is increasingly service based?  Maybe - but who will create these new careers, business models, and strucutures that allow them to thrive - they have to.

The next generation is not less creative or hard working.  Maybe all they need is some inspiration.  That's what Biz-Gen is being established to provide.

Where are we now?  We have a pilot competition planned for June 7th.  The University of New Hampshire is the lead sponsor for this event and have contibuted both in-kind and financial support.  We are working to recruit appoximately 10 high school teams from New Hampshire and surrounding regions to compete.  We are also recruiting mentors and judges as well as additional sponsors.

The plan is to pilot this effort, capture it mainly through video with compelling connections between business ideas and students, and expand it first through the United States and then perhaps globally.  We'll do this partially through developing University partners like UNH with goals aligned with Biz-Gen and facilities that can host the competitions.

9/17/14

Wow, time flies.  The BizGen pilot was launched and 12 teams competed at the Univesity of New Hampshire's Paul College on June 6, 2014.  In total about 200 people attended including 62 students, 12 coaches, 9 judges, and handful of volunteers.

Included in the group was the Dean of the Business School and Vice Provost of the University.  Senators Shaheen and Ayotte both provided letters of encouragement read at the event.

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/bizgen/competition%20photos%202014/bizgen_competition_6-7-14/Team-Photos/BizGen_Apollo-Solar_Central-Catholic_01.jpg?_subject_uid=278457264&w=AABmgzGFmxmIB_HK1frAw5E0ZRwIGRRirNH-GQ7wOUxPpQ

A shot of the winning team Apollo Solar.  Their pitch was a thin adhesive solar device for the iPhone.  Without giving anything away, it is an improvement over just about any other portable charging device on the market.

We're now in the mode of taking the pilot and rolling it out with a multi-year committment(s) from Universities.

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