Itâ€™s never too soon to develop your entrepreneurial talentsâ€”just ask the kid with the lemonade stand, or her older brother who dreams of becoming the next Bill Gates or Donald Trump.
More than 50 New York high school students are putting their entrepreneurial instincts and talents to work. Theyâ€™re competing for prestige and money in the Baruch College & Merrill Lynch IPO Challenge High School Entrepreneurship Competition.
Since the beginning of February, teens from 11 New York City high schools have been attending Saturday workshops and seminars, learning about the nuts and bolts of starting and operating a business. Each team developed a business concept, researched its potential in the marketplace, and elaborated a business strategy.
â€œThey are highly motivated,â€ says Monica Dean, administrative director of Baruch Collegeâ€™s Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship, which runs the competition. â€œYou can see them trying to apply the theories of entrepreneurship to their own business plans.â€
Bill Heath, a marketing professor in Baruchâ€™s Zicklin School of Business, agrees. â€œI love teaching in this program,â€ Heath says, â€œbecause the students are so enthusiastic and I can introduce them to concepts they never knew. We handle it like a college class. We donâ€™t teach down to them.â€
Students from the following high schools are participating: the Academy for Finance and Entrepreneurship (Long Island City). Automotive High School (Brooklyn), Flushing High School (Queens), the High School for Arts and Business (Corona, Queens), Fort Hamilton High School (Brooklyn), High School for Arts and Technology (Manhattan), the International School of Business (Manhattan), Lafayette High School (Brooklyn), New Dorp High School (Staten Island), Paul Robeson High School (Brooklyn) and Port Richmond High School (Staten Island).
On June 7 the top six teams will present their business concepts to Merrill Lynch executives who will be serving as volunteer judges to choose the winners. The event will mark the grand finale of a months-long effort. It hasnâ€™t been easy. Monica Dean points out that participation in the IPO Challenge is in addition to the studentsâ€™ regular schoolwork, extracurricular activities and SAT preparation. Later in June, Zicklin School of Business Dean John Elliott is hosting a party to for all participants.