The following post was written by Daniel Gomez, a student at Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, TX, and originally appeared on LinkedIn April 12, 2019.
It was 2017 when I first heard that a business incubator program was starting at my high school. I was curious as to what this class could offer me. I decided I would give it a try. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a journey that would forever change me and the way I see my future unfolding.
Grades Aren’t Everything, They Said
Every high school student knows that to be considered for admission into good schools, one must balance not only course load, but extracurriculars and community service.
I was already heavily involved in my high school’s robotics team, taking multiple advanced placement courses and working part-time. I thought Incubator would be interesting, but my real motivation was to use the course as one more addition to my college admissions portfolio.
Not Your Everyday High School Classroom
The shift in mindset started the minute I entered the classroom. The physical layout and working environment was unlike any I’d ever experienced. We were told that the classroom was designed to model the real working world. Our instructors were not certified teachers, but industry experts from the Austin business community who volunteered to teach components of the LEAN start-up methodology.
We quickly formed company teams and were paired with volunteer mentors from the community.
Early in the process, I stopped thinking about college admissions and started digging in to this process of starting my own company. I realized that this was not a simulation, but the real deal – I could prove that I didn't have to wait until after college to achieve real world success.
Everything is Different Now
Two years later, I’m now the CTO of a company called 'Crush-It' along with two other classmates who are not only business partners, but close friends. We incorporated last summer and are in the accelerator phase of our development.
We have a viable product and are in the process of finalizing our go-to-market and initial product launch. I’m now a regular on LinkedIn and my professional network is growing daily. Most important are the relationships I have established that will transcend high school and beyond.
The truth is, I don’t really know what role the incubator program played in my college admissions and I don’t really care. My truth is that this went from being a “program” to a real-life experience; from being a “means to an end” to the beginning of a new approach for achieving my goals.
I feel very fortunate that my high school made the investment in this innovative curriculum that is INCubatoredu and ACCELeratoredu. I hope other high school students will read this and be inspired to join similar programs that may be offered at their schools and if not, I hope others will realize that you’re never too young to design your own future.